Draft Daily: Could Conley join Lattimore in the first round?
Pro Football Focus’ Draft Daily will hit on a number of NFL Draft-related topics including recent news, scouting reports, PFF draft takes, and much more on a frequent basis.
Will Ohio State have two first-round cornerbacks?
There’s a lot of interesting stories in this draft, and one of them is whether we will see Ohio State have two cornerbacks drafted in the first round. We have all heard plenty about Marshon Lattimore, who some draft analysts like as early as pick number two to the San Francisco 49ers, but there are others who are actually higher on Lattimore’s Buckeye teammate, Gareon Conley.
One key stat that highlights just how good both were last year can be found in the PFF Draft Pass under coverage efficiency. Using this table you can sort all of the draft-eligible cornerbacks in this class by targets, receptions, yards allowed and more. For the Ohio State superstar cornerbacks though, it’s all about NFL passer rating allowed.
Both of them rank inside the top four when it comes to lowest NFL passer rating allowed, with Lattimore ranking fourth at 30.2, and Conley all the way at No. 1 with an NFL passer rating allowed of 13.6. The most startling thing about those numbers? For both players, that’s actually lower than the NFL passer rating a quarterback would get if he simply threw the ball away on every play. That’s right, in college this past season, opposing quarterbacks would have fared better simply by throwing the ball into the turf than they actually did from going after Conley and Lattimore.
That stat highlights what our grading told us this year, that Lattimore (86.5 grade) and Conley (85.7) are among the best draft-eligible cornerbacks in this draft class. Lattimore is seen as a lock as a first-round draft pick, especially after really impressing physically at the NFL combine in Indianapolis a week ago, and with Washington’s Sidney Jones’ injury all but certain to drop him out of the first round, the chances of Conley joining him as a first-round selection just got even higher.
Scouting report for Ole Miss TE Evan Engram
Part of the impressive group of tight ends who lit up the NFL combine last weekend in Indianapolis, Engram represents an intriguing option for a team looking for a tight end who can dominate from the slot. Engram’s 2.61 yards per route run and seven touchdowns when lined up in the slot were both the top mark among draft eligible tight ends this past season.
PFF analyst draft takes
Our analysts are hard at work analyzing the 2017 draft class and adding their spin on what they’re seeing. The beauty here is that we’re not always in lockstep with each take, and it shows the unique interpretation each of our analysts can have when watching film and analyzing PFF grades and stats. Here is one of the more interesting takes of the week:
This is one that I can’t wholeheartedly back (Dalvin Cook’s patience and vision for the win!), but I understand exactly why John likes McCaffrey as much as he does. In an NFL that leans so heavily on the passing game these days, McCaffrey can be an impact player on all four downs from day one. He’s a solid runner who won’t see the same type of tackling he saw from some of his college opponents in the NFL, but once he gets into the open field he’s going to cause serious problems for opposing defenses. As a receiver, he can be a dynamic playmaker, and if you look back at his 2015 season you’ll see a running back who averaged 3.22 yards per route run, the only running back to break 3.00 YPRR since we began grading college football back in 2014. Factor in his ability to make game changing plays on special teams and it’s not hard to see that McCaffrey has the potential to be a special talent.
PFF “My Guys”
We have a running document where PFF analysts list their favorite players to watch and analyze during draft season. They’re not necessarily the best players in the draft, but players an analyst believes in more than the hype surround the prospect or perhaps his expected draft position.
Here’s my take on one guy who really impressed in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, but has the potential to be overlooked after such strong performances by other tight ends at the NFL combine, Toledo tight end Michael Roberts:
How good was Toledo’s Michael Roberts this past season? Well, at 85.8 he had the second-highest PFF grade of any tight end in the nation, impressive both as a receiver and as a blocker. He led all tight ends with 16 touchdowns, with the next best tight end having eight, half that of Roberts.
He is a gifted run-blocker, impressive in each of the past two years in that regard and helping to clear the way for a big year from running back Kareem Hunt this year. Where Roberts falls down slightly is in pure athleticism. While his three-cone drill of 7.05 seconds at the combine ranked fifth among the tight ends in this class, the rest of his numbers don’t leap out at you. In this draft class, which is arguably the most athletically gifted at tight end in quite some time, that makes it easy for him to get lost in the shuffle.
That being said, his 16 touchdowns this past season were not an accident, and at 6-feet-4 and 270 pounds Roberts is a big target for quarterbacks to look for in the red zone. Dropping just three of the 70 catchable passes thrown his way this past year, his future NFL quarterback is going to feel very comfortable throwing the ball to him near the opposing goal line.
PFF Draft Podcast
The latest PFF Draft Podcast is now available, as Steve teams up with Senior Analyst Mike Renner for their usual rambling. Mike brings it with his usual “hot take” of the week, and this one was burning so strong that he had to kick off the show with it. They also discuss players moving up and down the draft board, and review old scouting reports. We are also blessed with Nathan Jahnke’s mind-blowing stat of the week, quickly becoming the most-talked about segment in football podcasting.
Be sure to download and subscribe to the PFF Podcast from your favorite provider.
PFF Draft Pass
PFF Draft Pass has officially launched, and can be accessed by clicking here. Users can now view PFF signature stat breakdowns by position, and will soon have access to expanded scouting profiles with grades and signature stats for each top prospect. In addition, PFF Draft Pass users will have access to the PDF version of the PFF Draft Pass in the coming weeks.
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