Oakland Raiders: Undrafted Free Agent Conroy Black, the Next Raider Great at Cornerback?
Jerry Rump – May 18, 2012
Throughout the ages, one thing has been a constant in Oakland Raiders football lore. Al Davis was always a fan of great cornerbacks. He constantly went out of his way to ensure the team had exceptional talent at that position, often drafting corners in the first round or picking them up via free-agency with lucrative contract offers.
It’s a new era and things are being done the Reggie McKenzie way. Enter undrafted free-agent, Conroy Black out of Utah.
Black played two seasons at Utah and last season, he racked up four interceptions, 39 tackles, and four pass breakups in 13 games. This earned him an honorable mention on the 2011 All-Pac 12 Team. He also was named National Defensive Player of the Week after a two interception performance against UCLA.
The 6’ 1” 186 pounder is a Jamaican who hails from Miramar, Florida. He possesses 4.3 speed and ran track at Fullerton College where he clocked a 10.3 100 meter time. Needless to say, the guy has that speed the Raider corners are renowned for.
The rest of the scouting report on Black shows that he has decent man cover skills and is extremely athletic. However, he is also raw as his skillset and playmaking abilities are below what they could be.
The good news in all of this is that he is ready to be coached up and that the young man is determined to succeed. After not being invited to the NFL combine, Black said he had something to prove. All of this paid off in a stellar pro-day performance at Utah which caught the eye of the Raider scouts.
Yet, even with all of this, he was bypassed in the Draft and signed with the Raiders on May 10th. This is a good thing for the Silver and Black as they are in dreadful need at this position.
Everyone should remember the frustration of last season where Routt and Johnson consistently under-performed and literally handed teams victories, like in the Lions game at home after the Raiders had the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Calvin Johnson dominated the game-winning drive with 3 catches for 75 yards and caught the touchdown that sealed the game. Point being, the Raider corners were non-existent in that game and were so far out of position, that many thought Rolando McClain was assigned to cover Megatron on that drive. This was but one example of poor production at the corner position that really existed all year long.
Apparently, McKenzie saw it the same way as neither of the two starting corners are back with the squad. Routt signed with the hated Chiefs, so Carson Palmer will enjoy getting to light him up so badly at home this year, that even the 49er fans in Candlestick will not have to worry about any blackouts that weekend.
Black enters Raiders' mini-camp with a lot to prove and it would appear the 23 year-old is up to the task. Taking a quote he made about being the number one guy at Utah last season, as it fittingly applies to his situation here, he said “When you know you’re the guy and you know you’re on the field, it’s a bigger role and a bigger challenge for you. You’ve got to cherish the moment and step up.”
This is the kind of thing you want to hear from a number one draft pick and it is definitely what you want to hear from a guy that wasn’t even drafted. Competition and the will to achieve are huge at this level and it would seem are not only the forces driving this young man, but are the main staples of the Reggie era.
There are a lot of reasons to root for Conroy Black to make the squad as he and players like him, may not catch the attention of the media or be heralded as number one picks coming in to save the franchise. Instead, they look to work hard and earn everything they get the old-fashioned way.
This is exactly what is meant by the phrase Commitment to Excellence and the Raiders are redefining the means by which they achieve it. It’s going to be a great season.
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