Chris Conte, Safety
Height: 6-2 Weight: 197 College: California
What they say about Conte
Having spent the first three seasons of his career at California as a reserve cornerback, Conte's emergence last season as a first-team All Pac-10 free safety surprised many scouts. So too, did his physical, reliable play despite the relative in-experience. Conte has prototypical size and good athleticism overall for the position and proved to be a very reliable open-field tackler as Cal's last line of defense. Pessimists will argue that he's only been successful one season. Optimists will point out that it was his first year at the new position and that his blend of size and athleticism should translate into a more productive NFL career than the one he had in college. In a weak year for safeties, Conte's upside could ultimately earn him a top 100 grade.Analysis
Positives: A former cornerback with good balance, agility and speed for coverage. Improving instincts for the position, showing better awareness as he gained more experience. Reads the quarterback's eyes and has the range to get to the sideline. Long arms and good timing to break up the pass. Reliable open-field tackler. Breaks down in space and can make the one-on-one stop against the smaller, quicker athletes. Takes good angles in pursuit. Negatives: Developing instincts. Will take a false step toward the line of scrimmage when he reads run and can be caught out of position on play-action. Adequate ball skills. Has only two interceptions over his career. Has only one season as a starter and played behind an aggressive pass-rush.
Sideline ScoutingPositives: Has a very good frame, above-average height and good bulk... Has a strong upper-body, put up 18 bench reps at the combine... Had a very good senior season, recorded 72 tackles, an interception and two forced fumbles as a starter... Has solid range when in a two-deep look, is adequate with deep-half responsibilities... Solid leaping ability, can hold his own in jump-ball situations... Is an adequate wrap-up tackler, not a big hitter, but does well breaking down in space... Has good agility and change-of-direction ability for his size.
Negatives: Did not get a lot of experience while at Cal, only started senior year and still looks a little raw... Instincts need some work, seem to be below-average at this point... Is a better run-stopper than coverage safety, not a good man coverage defender... Has somewhat stiff hips, overall body control is lacking... Is not a playmaker or ball-hawking safety, may be a better fit at strong safety in the NFL... Gets a little too high, backpedal is a bit sloppy. National Football PostA tall, upright defensive back who possesses a good-sized frame and above-average length and power for the position. Displays decent closing range on the ball carrier and does a nice job taking proper angles toward the football and is a solid wrap-up guy on contact. Isn't overly physical and doesn't generate a ton of force, but has the ability to get his man to the ground. Possesses above-average instincts when asked to read his runpass keys, locate the football and routinely is able to get early jumps on the play. Displays some natural coordination when asked to slip blocks inside the box. However, is a leggy defender who struggles to maintain balance and quickly get back up to speed.
Doesn't do a great job sitting into his stance in his back-pedal. Has a tendency to get bent over at the waist or will just allow himself to get too upright down the field. Struggles to cleanly break down and change directions quickly out of his breaks. Allows himself to get either too upright or leggy when asked to change directions and doesn't have the ability to generate a ton of burst for himself when closing on the football. Lacks a second gear to allow him to make up for a false step and doesn't have the closing range to routinely make plays on the football.
Impression: A nice-sized defender with some good instincts, but will struggle in the deep half and looks more like a special teams type guy and reserve DB.
Pro Football Weekly
Notes: Last name is pronounced CON-tee. Safety-receiver out of Los Angeles but began as a cornerback at Cal. Played in all 13 games in 2007, starting three, and recorded 32 tackles, zero pass breakups and zero interceptions with a tackle for loss. Played in 12 games in 08 (one start) and tallied 28-7-1 with a tackle for loss. Broke his thumb against Stanford and did not play against Washington. Played in all 13 games (one start) and managed 25-1-0. Transitioned to strong safety in 10 and produced 72-3-1 with two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a blocked kick in 12 starts. Was a 21-year-old senior.Positives: Good body length to match up with receivers. Runs well in a straight line. Plays with a sense of urgency and is quick to support closes fast. Takes good angles in pursuit. Aggressive, dependable wrap tackler plays full speed ahead. Has some upside and a frame to carry more weight.Negatives: Short arms. Builds up speed and is not sudden. Is leggy, pedals tall and sticks some when changing direction. Average flexibility and lateral agility. Range is just average and is too often a step late getting over the top. Still developing positional instincts is not anticipatory and does not show an understanding of route combinations. Not a punisher.Summary: Lacks starter-caliber burst and flexibility and has man-coverage limitations but tackles well and is athletic enough to make it as a fourth safety and core special-teams player.NFL Projection: Priority free agent.