The Dallas Cowboys are going to get themselves a good cornerback in this draft. Who that player is and when they take him, is a big mystery. There are several ways to go for the Cowboys. The best player on their board at 28 could be a corner or they may choose to wait until pick 60 to take one. Either spots should give the team a quality CB that can step in and fill the shoes of the departed Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne.
Over the next few weeks, there are going to be several corners thrown at you and everyone is going to have their own favorite. There is a good list of candidates, each with different types of skill sets that will have a different appeal to their prospective NFL teams. But one guy that should appeal to everyone is Gareon Conley.
The fact that Ohio State had both cornerback’s Marshon Lattimore and Conley seems almost unfair and it doesn’t make it any more hunky-dory that they had Eli Apple on their squad the previous year. The Buckeyes produce quality corners like Universal Pictures churns out Fast And Furious movies - they’re never ending and typically bring in a lot of interest. Apple was a first-round pick in last year’s draft and Lattimore will go early this year, but what about Conley?
With the Achilles injury to Washington’s Sidney Jones, Conley will be the top corner remaining in the draft once his teammate, Lattimore is taken. But where exactly will he be selected? The range of where Conley is projected to go is rather wide, with some projecting him as a top 15 pick and others have him sliding towards the end of the first round. It’s real tricky to gauge where CBs will go. Our own OCC did some great mock crunching to help give you an idea where players are likely to go (I highly recommend you check this out if you are into mocking all 32 teams first round pick). His data reveals that Conley could go at pick 14 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Further examination shows that Conley is the only CB picked (besides Lattimore) in the first round and if the Eagles don’t take him, there isn’t another team in the first round that has him as a top four mock target.
Conley has a chance to make it to 28. The real question becomes - is he the right pick for the Cowboys there?
While he is a very good corner, there are a couple factors working against him. First, he’s got to be better than any of the remaining pass rushing candidates the Cowboys have on their board. Taco Charlton, Takkarist McKinley, and Charles Harris are all names we could hear when Dallas makes their selection. The mock data has Taco and Takk going before 28 and Harris being selected by the Cowboys. The second thing working against him is the onslaught of other comparable corners that will be available in the second round. Does Conley have the talent to truly separate himself from the others?
Conley has two great attributes that exemplify his strengths at the corner position. He has great 3-cone shuttle speed (90 percentile) and arm length (92). He uses his length and agility to smother his man in coverage. He also has great eyes and has the ability to keep his focus to make a play on the ball. Conley’s skills makes him the most balanced cornerback as he can play both on the inside and outside. And he is solid against the run. And as Fran Duffy explains in this quick video, his instincts and awareness could boost his draft stock.
As quick as Conley is, his overall speed is just average and he could struggle against the faster receivers in the league. If he gets beat, he doesn’t posses the makeup speed to catch up with his man. And while he uses his arms to his advantage, he can be a little handsy and that could draw out some yellow laundry if he’s not careful.
Bottom Line: He has the skills to be a good corner in this league. Some may think of Conley as a steal at 28, but this may have more to do with the lull in CB activity after Lattimore is taken. That’s right around the area where he should be taken. And that’s not a knock on Conley, but rather a testament to just how good the other corners in this draft class are. Conley will be better than any corner the Cowboys can get at pick 60, however there could be some intriguing talent available to where the difference might not be very much.
How would you feel if the Cowboys drafted Conley with pick 28?