Throughout the 2016 NFL season, the Cleveland Browns’ secondary really struggled. Aside from Joe Haden‘s play, the Browns were awful at the cornerback position. While the safeties were usually laughable as well, Ed Reynolds and Tyvis Powell are nice building blocks. However, the cornerbacks on Cleveland’s roster seem to be devoid of talent. It’s clear that the Cleveland Browns need a new stud cornerback in the 2017 NFL Draft. With Washington’s Sidney Jones suffering an injury, he’s likely going to fall out of the draft’s first day. But what if Cleveland wants a truly electric cornerback that can make plays on day one? Enter one of Ohio State’s defensive stars, Gareon Conley.
Why the Cleveland Browns Should Draft Gareon Conley
Size and Length
First off, Conley’s size is beyond impressive for a cornerback. Standing at 6’0″ with an arm length of 33 inches, Conley is lanky beyond belief. This makes him dangerously versatile, but that’s another story. Conley’s length allows him to take larger strides to keep up with any receiver. Furthermore, Conley’s arm length makes him a dangerous cover for the deep ball.
When looking at Conley’s extreme size, it’s important to note that his frame is a bit frail. While this does somewhat work to his detriment, it could also be a big help. Conley’s light frame allows for him to keep up with even the fastest offensive skill players. Additionally, the weight he does have on him is pure muscle. Gareon Conley has scary NFL size, and teams will quickly come to fear him.
Everything about Gareon Conley screams “versatility.” Not only is he light and fast, but his size gives him an advantage over most receivers. Additionally, Conley had a 119 inch broad jump in this year’s NFL Combine, a very good number for his position. Although most scouts see Conley as simply “not Marshon Lattimore,” he’s really much more unique than that.
Conley has a bit of Renaissance Man in him. Again, his size makes him a threat in more positions than one. Yes, Conley mostly plays cornerback, but fans and scouts must remember that his football IQ is astounding. If Gregg Williams really wanted to, he could put Gareon Conley in at safety. While physical durability might be an issue, short amounts of time at safety should keep Conley relatively unharmed.
A Star-Studded Secondary
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Conley comes from an already stacked defensive secondary. During his time at Ohio State, Conley got playing time with two of the best defensive players in the 2017 NFL Draft. This helps Conley’s case in two distinct areas, both of which are equally important.
First off, Conley most likely picked up some things from both Malik Hooker and Lattimore. While those three worked in the same secondary, it is highly unlikely to think that they didn’t rub off on each other. And if Hooker truly is the next Ed Reed as some scouts say, this can only help out Conley.
Secondly, it is impressive that Conley got playing time on such a great defense. Ohio State’s secondary was already one of the best in the country. However, coaches obviously decided that Conley should get some snaps as well. Of course, Conley made the most of it. Now, he sits near the top of this year’s cornerback class. Finally, it should be noted that this year’s class of defensive backs is amazing as it is. Conley only adds to the star power available at the cornerback position.
Conclusion and Pro Comparison
In short, Gareon Conley is a lot like Denver’s Bradley Roby. First off, he’s a shut down corner who knows exactly what to do. His football IQ is through the roof, which Coach Williams should have a lot of fun with. Secondly, Conley’s length and speed both mirror that of Roby. Although his hips are somewhat tight on some snaps, he makes up for it in explosiveness. Finally, Conley is big enough to play both safety and cornerback, and should fill a lot of holes in Cleveland’s desperate defense. If the Browns want a shutdown corner with the 12th overall pick, they should seriously look into Gareon Conley.