Lions Draft Prospect: DB Gareon Conley – Ohio State
By Matt Urben
With the 2017 NFL Draft still more than a few weeks away, there are dozens of potential targets for the Detroit Lions with the 21st pick of the first-round, and their second-round pick, the 53rd-overall selection. Based on post-combine projections, I will be highlighting individual players whom the team could be interested in during the first couple of rounds. Today, we look at a player that could improve Detroit’s middle-of-the-pack secondary.
Draft Prospect: Gareon Conley – Ohio State
Size: 6-foot, 195 lbs
Analysis: Gareon Conley is near to the top of this talented and deep class at defensive back. It’s widely projected that he will go in the middle of the first, but with so many DBs graded out similarly in that 15-30 range, it’s very feasible that he could fall to the end of the round.
Conley has been steadily improving at Ohio State the past two seasons. Giants corner Eli Apple played well as a rookie coming out of the same system. As a lengthy, press-specialist, Gareon Conley has the measurables and athleticism (6-foot, 195 lbs, with a 4.4 40-yard-dash time), to figure out the NFL game.
Criticisms of Conley from scouts include tight hips in transition and not having the full repertoire to cover the many advanced route-concepts of the NFL. Ohio State is an elite college program and pro-factory, yet Conley will still have to polish his game. With some NFL coaching, everything in his college tape indicates this kid can develop into a capable starting cornerback on the outside.
Why He Makes Sense For Lions: Outside of Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson had an up-and-down season starting on the outside. Lawson did a better job than he gets credit for, but he can and will get exposed by bigger receivers. Adding D.J Hayden (a former 1st-round pick) helps potentially. Nobody is expecting Hayden to suddenly turn into the pro-bowl caliber player he was drafted to be, however.
Instead of counting on Hayden as anything more than a band-aid, why not take a swing for the fences and draft another stud on the outside? It’s not as if Lawson doesn’t have the ability to be a very good nickel — with his physical style and ability to re-route smaller DBs.
The Lions already have Quandre Diggs, who’s proven worthy of handling that nickel spot as well, but it wouldn’t kill the Lions to go from an undersized group to a versatile and deep one. Conley may not be available, but regardless, some of these highly-touted defensive backs are going to fall. Conley at 21 would be a great value. The Ohio State standout is just one of many in a deep defensive back draft class in 2017. Watch college highlights below of Conley — the player scouts compare to Aqib Talib.
Check out other Lions Draft Profiles: LB- T.J. Watt, DE – Derek Barnett, DL- Malik McDowell, LB- Zach Cunningham and OT – Cam Robinson. Plus, Like SLR on Facebook and follow Matt on Twitter @MattUrben88.