Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State: 2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Nov 26, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley (8) gets the crowd into the game during the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley (8) gets the crowd into the game during the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

Why Ohio State’s Gareon Conley could fall out of the 1st round of the NFL 2017 Draft among an elite class of cornerbacks…

Viewed by many as “the best secondary class in the past decade”, the NFL 2017 draft class boasts many highly touted cornerback and safety prospects that include three Buckeyes that could go in the first round. With Malik Hooker (considered a top safety in the draft before it was announced he will miss four to six months due to surgery on a torn labrum and hernia) and Marshon Lattimore (considered the best cornerback prospect) also entering this upcoming draft, Gareon Conley could be the one chosen at some point in the first round.

After his Junior season concluded, Conley had a total of 6 interceptions and 15 pass deflections in his three year career at Ohio State, making improvements as a starter in 2016 where he had 4 interceptions and 8 pass deflections. Overall, Conley has the build NFL teams want in a longer cornerback that could line up all over the field, and who can cover and play in any scheme or coverage. But he is not the complete package and is lacking in certain areas.


Height: 6’0″- 6’1″

Weight: 195 lbs.

Games Watched: Penn State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Nebraska, Michigan


Conley has the size, build/frame, and the speed to match. At his height and weight already, Conley would not have to bulk up at the next level and is NFL ready day one.

He has good straight line speed to match any type of receiver and can cover these receivers hip to hip on most routes. In this play vs. Indiana, Conley has great coverage using his initial speed and acceleration to match the receiver and makes a play on the ball while always looking at the quarterback.

He has relatively fluid hips for his size but at times it is inconsistent. Conley does have quick feet and instincts/play recognition that help him cover receivers and read the quarterback in coverage to try to make a play on the ball. He’s got above average ball skills and can make a play with his awareness. In this play vs. Wisconsin, Conley displays great coverage in man coverage using his quick feet and fluid hip transition and gets in front of the receiver to get the interception.

At Ohio State, Conley mostly played man coverage but when playing in zone or in press man, he played well and played in the slot sometimes as well as the boundary. This shows he can play in various defensive schemes and can play well in multiple coverages. He sometimes played as an “island” corner with little to no help in the back end so it shows some starter potential.


Playing in Ohio State, Conley played with a whole lot of talent, especially in the secondary with Hooker and Lattimore. While Lattimore played more #2 boundary corner then Conley who usually played #1 corner, Lattimore showed a lot better coverage and technique consistently.

In coverage, Conley can get physical and break up the pass. But in run support, I do not see any aggression or willingness to tackle the ball carrier. And when he does, he is not a good tackler. Conley takes poor angles and does not wrap up cleanly when making a tackle.

He has to improve if he wants to be a starting cornerback to not be a liability in run support. In this play vs. Indiana, Conley covers the outside hole if the running back wants to run outside but the back runs inside and Conley does not hit him when he is out of the hole, nor does he have the speed to track him down.

As a blitzing cornerback, Conley can get there and time the blitz well but as said previously since he is not a good at tackling, the ball carrier or quarterback could extend the play because of Conley’s missed or broken tackle. This is not a huge knock on him but cornerbacks that can make plays against the run are important and coveted in the NFL.

Conley has pretty good speed for his size but sometimes I question his acceleration and not just straight line speed, and sometimes his hips and backpedal are not fluid at all. He will show hip tightness as a bigger corner and can be fooled on fakes or double moves. Routes with a lot of lateral movement by shiftier and quicker receivers are a problem for Conley, who has the speed to cover them but is out of position and could get grabby and does hold from time to time.

In these plays vs. Michigan, Conley struggles in coverage against different routes and different types of receivers. Both cornerbacks had bad games against Michigan with Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, both senior wide receiver prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Player Comparison: Jalen Collins 

Jalen Collins, the former LSU second round cornerback in 2015 (Falcons), is not the best tackler but physical in coverage and has good speed for his size. Both have NFL size and have good play recognition to potentially make a play on the ball in any coverage.

Best NFL Team Fits: Saints, Cardinals, Eagles, Colts, Ravens, Lions, Titans, Raiders, Seahawks, Chiefs, Cowboys, Packers, Patriots

Projection: Late Round 1- Early Round 2

Conclusion: Gareon Conley has #1 cornerback potential but should be a #2 cornerback or maybe could consider the slot. Since he is relatively good in any coverage, he could be scheme versatile but the best fits would include either a zone heavy or press man coverage scheme.

Conley is not the flashiest or the top of an elite cornerback class but can be a solid starter in few years. If he would fall out of the first round due to competition in the cornerback class, he could be tremendous value in round two to cornerback-needy teams. His range will be hard to predict because teams may have differing opinions on what they are looking for in a cornerback and impressing at the Scouting Combine could help his stock rise into the first round.