Kansas City Chiefs rookie profile: Chris Conley

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Oct 18, 2014; Little Rock, AR, USA; Georgia Bulldogs flanker Chris Conley (31) catches a pass for a touchdown defended by Arkansas Razorbacks cornerback Jared Collins (29) at War Memorial Stadium. Georgia defeated Arkansas 45-32. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports


Fantastic Deep Threat Speed

One thing that absolutely everyone agrees upon when it comes to Chris Conley is his fantastic speed that makes him a dangerous deep threat. Conley timed out with a 4.35 40-yard dash at the combine, making him one of the fastest wide receivers in this draft class. While some were quick to label Conley a “workout warrior” after his fantastic combine performance (it also included 18 bench press reps, a 45 inch vertical jump, and 139 inch broad jump), his tape does actually back up his workout speed.

While Conley didn’t catch a ton of passes (only 117 total in four seasons with a high of just 45 receptions his junior year) plenty of the passes he did catch were deep balls. Over his career Conley averaged 16.6 yards per catch. Plus 20 of those 117 receptions went for touchdowns. That’s an impressive 17.1% of his receptions. That alone makes him a good fit for a team that didn’t have a single wide receiver touchdown last season.

From Dane Brugler’s Draft Guide:

"Lightning quickness with effortless acceleration, hitting top speed in a blink…easy release off the line of scrimmage with sudden feet to beat jam and get vertical…has a fifth gear to shift into overdrive and zoom past defenders"

From Mike Loyko’s Draft Guide:

"Chris Conley is the most explosive Receiver in the 2015 NFL Draft Class. When his straight line speed and explosive leaping ability are factored together, he can create match-up nightmares for opposing corners. Conley generates great burst off the line and accelerates to top speed quickly. He can eat up cushion and run right by the defender."

See it in action:

Here’s a clip from draftbreakdown.com of Conley just flying by Louisville’s Charles Gaines (who was drafted by the Browns) for a long touchdown. Conley is lined up at the top of the screen.

Now, I know what some of you are going to say….”What good does deep speed do when Alex Smith won’t throw deep?” Well my answer to that would be that Alex Smith doesn’t like to gamble on contested deep balls. It’s not an arm strength issue, it’s a risk management issue. Well if you have a wideout that can get THAT open deep even Alex Smith won’t see it as too risky. If the Chiefs were looking for a receiver that can be a deep threat and stretch the field they definitely got one in Conley.

Catching Ability

While Conley may not be the most consistent receiver at catching the ball (more on that later) he has shown the ability to make amazing catches. One thing I personally like about him is that he is usually a hands catcher, snagging the ball out of the air before it gets into his body. He has large hands (almost 10 inches) which has helped him make some highlight reel grabs. He also has shown the ability to track the ball well on deep passes.

From Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com profile:

"Quick to find ball in flight and make adjustments to seal the deal. Hands-catcher who snatches away from his body."

From Dane Brugler’s Draft Guide:

"tracks very well, making natural adjustments and the occasional acrobatic grab"

See it in action:

Here’s a clip that shows Conley’s ability to catch the ball with his hands. On this play Conley is working the middle of the field against Arkansas.

I would call that a typical Chris Conley catch. He’ll occasionally let the ball get into his body, but most times he grabs the ball out in front with his hands. This next play shows his ability to track deep passes. Look at how he runs under this deep pass against LSU and grabs it right as it drops over his shoulder.

Finally, if neither of those first two catches did much for you, check out this amazing one handed catch against Tennessee.

Conley is clearly able to make highlight reel catches. When you combine his freakish athleticism and top end speed with big hands capable of snagging passes out of the air you get a wide receiver that is a true weapon that the other team must account for.


Chris Conley’s other area of great strength is his intangibles. Across the board, from work ethic to leadership to intelligence to Star Wars fan films all reports say that Conley is at the top of the class. While football ultimately comes down to a player’s ability on the field, knowing that a freakishly gifted player like Conley is also smart and hard working gives me hope that he may be able to capitalize on his physical gifts. It will also make him a more likely candidate to see the field as a rookie if he can grasp Andy Reid’s playbook faster than the typical rookie would be able to.

From Dane Brugler’s Draft Guide:

"natural leadership traits with the competitive hustle that stands out – elected as the SEC representative to serve a two-year term on the NCAA SAAC Committee…high character individual with notable intelligence and ambitions outside of football – the type who can do anything if he sets his mind to it."

From Mike Loyko’s Draft Guide:

"Outstanding intangibles. Highly Decorated Student Athlete and positive presence in the community. Coaches speak highly of his Football Intelligence."

While these strengths make Conley a very intriguing prospect, there are some weaknesses that he’ll need to overcome in order to become a good NFL starting wide receiver.

Next: Chris Conley's weaknesses...