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A two-year starter at Ohio State, Conley often played on an island in the Buckeyes' press-quarters cover scheme, adding slot corner duties to his resume in 2016. After redshirting in 2013, he struggled as a redshirt freshman back-up in 2014, posting 16 tackles and two passes defended. Conley made substantial strides as a sophomore and earned the starting corner job opposite Eli Apple (13 starts), finishing with 49 tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions to earn All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors. He again started all 13 games in 2016 as a junior and notched career-bests with 12 passes defended and four interceptions, taking home Second Team All-Big Ten honors.
Although not on the same level athletically as his former teammate Marshon Lattimore, Conley moves very well for his size and consistently stays within arm's length of his man. However, he plays on his heels too much with his momentum taking him backwards, making him a tick slow attacking plays in front of him and allowing savvy route runners to eat him up. Projecting him to the next level, he isn't elite in any one area, but Conley is solid across the board and doesn't have any major deficiency that should keep him from being a steady, scheme-versatile NFL starter.
STRENGTHS: Desired frame and length for the next level. Collects his feet quickly to press-and-shadow different types of receivers. Long-strider with enough lower body twitch to stay snug in man coverage. Route anticipation to read and get a head start. Astute understanding of field/sideline leverage and uses body positioning to close routes. Above average arm length, but also understands timing and how to disrupt throwing lanes. Natural ballskills with the hand-eye coordination to finish the interceptions that he should. Well-schooled in press and off man coverages with experience moving inside to cover the slot. Displays the downhill burst and chops to be a factor in run support. Voted a team captain in 2016 and started every game for the Buckeyes the past two seasons.
WEAKNESSES: Plays too much on his heels, causing him to labor out of his stance and at the top of routes. Athleticism isn't an issue, but moves a tad mechanical in his transition. Comfortable playing nose-to-nose at the line of scrimmage, but rarely jams or engages receivers off the snap. Inconsistent instincts with his back to the ball, causing him to be late turning and locating -- this led to several big plays and touchdowns downfield on film. Handsy when receivers gain a step. Only adequate play strength and can be outmuscled for 50-50 balls. Can be moved by blockers on the perimeter and needs to be more aggressive with his shed skills. Reckless run defender and needs to be a more technically-sound tackler in space.