The700Level

The700Level

Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 195 pounds

2016: 26 TKL, 8 PD, 4 INT
2015: 49 TKL, 5 PD, 2 INT
2014: 26 TKL, 2 PD

40-yard dash: 4.44 seconds
Bench press: 11 reps
Vertical jump: 37.0 inches
Broad jump: 129.0 inches
3-done drill: 6.68 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.18 seconds

While Gareon Conley's stock is said to be rising as the 2017 NFL Draft approaches, the Eagles might not like what they see in one key area -- run support.

A two-year starter for the Buckeyes, Conley backed up his quality tape and solid numbers with a strong performance at the combine, likely cementing himself as a first-round pick in the process. He has the size and speed to match up against and run with receivers on the perimeter, and allowed a meager 37-percent completion rate in college, according to Lance Zierlein for NFL.com.

There's no mystery behind Conley's rise. It’s just draft experts catching up to what scouts and executives already saw.

Conley certainly has traits that will appeal to the Eagles. To begin with, a cornerback with the ability to cover would be a nice change for the franchise. More specifically, Conley isn't afraid to challenge receivers, with experience in both man-to-man and zone.

Yet, among the areas where Conley appears to be the least polished is defending the run. The problem isn't necessarily a lack of willingness or effort, but effectiveness. He can be neutralized and even pancaked by bigger receivers, and needs to do a better job of finishing ball carriers when the opportunity presents as well.

 

How the second-team All-Big-Ten corner holds up in coverage is the first thing people tend to think about, but his work against the ground attack is not unimportant. With the Eagles, it may even be an emphasis.

Say what you want about somebody like Jalen Mills, but the rookie was very active in run support last season. Mills tied for 13th out of 97 qualifying cornerbacks in run-stop percentage in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

That was no accident. When Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz held the same post for the Buffalo Bills in 2014, Schwartz had four corners rank among the top 29 corners in the same metric. In five seasons as head coach of the Detroit Lions, he routinely had at least a pair in the top half of the league, often one among the top 20 or 30.

Schwartz wants cornerbacks who will compete in coverage. He also wants corners who are strong at the point of attack. Conley is aggressive and physical, but isn't exactly a force to be reckoned with at the line of scrimmage.

A redshit junior, Conley can certainly fix his flaws. He has the frame to add a little more functional strength, the natural tools to play the position at the next level, and a pedigree that should lend itself to accepting tutoring.

There's a reason the young man is reportedly flying up draft boards. Conley was a good college corner. If his development is handled correctly, he has the potential to be a great pro.

The Eagles held an official pre-draft visit with Conley, which suggests he very well could be in the running at No. 14. Based on the growing buzz, he won't be around by the time their second pick comes around.

 

Other Eagles draft targets at No. 14:
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
Michigan DE Taco Charlton
Ohio State CB Gareon Conley
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
Alabama LB Reuben Foster
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
Alabama TE O.J. Howard
Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
Washington CB Kevin King
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Michigan State DT Malik McDowell
UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley
Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
Washington WR John Ross
LSU CB Tre'Davious White
Clemson WR Mike Williams