Kansas City Chiefs rookie profile: Chris Conley

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Sep 27, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Cameron Sutton (23) intercepts a pass intended for Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Chris Conley (31) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Tennessee 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


Inconsistent Hands

While Conley has displayed good to great hands at times on film, he is prone to occasional drops. He dropped WAY too many passes at the combine, but his film isn’t quite as bad. He occasionally will lose concentration and drop an easy pass, especially over the middle of the field.

From Mike Loyko’s Draft Guide:

"Hands are inconsistent and lack confidence. Dropped a ton of balls at the combine. Production hasn’t matched his physical ability and athleticism."

From Dane Brugler’s Draft Guide:

"usually strong hands, but will fight the ball at times and lose focus, often too concerned with what’s going on around him…tentative over the middle"

When it comes to catching the ball, drops weren’t the thing that frustrated me the most about Conley. That would be….

Doesn’t Win Enough Contested Catches

Chris Conley is 6-foot-2, 213 pounds, had 18 bench press reps, a 45 inch vertical, and has big 10 inch hands. That sounds like a guy that should just flat out dominate smaller defensive backs when the ball is in the air. The problem is, Conley doesn’t. When Conley creates separation, he usually comes away with a reception, but if the defender is in a position to make a play for the ball Conley consistently comes up empty handed.

It’s like if the ball is up for grabs Conley suddenly acts like he’s a 5-foot-10, 180 pound wideout with alligator arms. I’d really like to see Conley do a better job of boxing out smaller corners on jump balls and in general he just needs to be much more aggressive when the ball is in the air. He has the tools to win in this area and he just doesn’t take advantage of them.

In fact, of the top 30 wide receiver prospects in the Optimum Scouting Draft Guide, 20 of them received a better grade for “high pointing” passes. Considering that Conley is taller than most, can leap higher than most, and has bigger hands than most, that’s inexcusable. If there is a plus side here, since Alex Smith doesn’t like to throw contested jump balls to his wideouts this weakness won’t come into play all that often.

From Mike Loyko’s Draft Guide:

"Doesn’t play with much physicality and his game can be disrupted by contact….isn’t physical at the catch point….Doesn’t use his athleticism and explosiveness to best of his advantage."

This is one of two key areas where I believe Conley needs to improve in order to excel in the NFL. The other is also related to how physical he plays…..

Inability To Beat Physical Press At The Line

As I just stated, Conley is 6-foot-2, 213 pounds, and did 18 bench press reps. He shouldn’t allow cornerbacks to push him around at the line of scrimmage. However, like his tendency to get beat out for contested catches he tends to let press corners take him out of his game too often.

From Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com Profile:

"Can be redirected and thrown off course by press coverage. Takes time to ramp back up to desired play speed when defenders get hands on him."

From Optimum Scouting’s Draft Guide:

"Conley struggles to get seperation off of the line in press coverage"

See it in action:

The clip below is an example of Conley getting out-muscled by a smaller and less physically gifted cornerback. On this play against Clemson, Conley is lined up at the bottom of the screen. You can see Conley get pushed out of the bottom of the screen at the snap, delaying his route and throwing the timing off.

Aaron Murray still tries to throw it up where Conley can go get it but the corner is still in his pocket and instead of screening him off and making the grab he allows the corner to fight through him and break up the pass. Both the initial contact at the line and the effort while the ball is in the air is pretty typical for Conley when you watch his film.

I have a few more closing thoughts and observations that don’t really fit under the strengths or weaknesses headings.

Next: Closing thoughts...