2015 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Georgia WR Chris Conley

CHRIS CONLEY- 6’2, 213- SR.

Combine Results: 4.35 40-yard dash, 18 reps bench press, 45” vertical jump, 139.0” broad jump, 7.06 three-cone drill, 4.30 20-yard shuttle, 11.65 60-yard shuttle

Many times, we’ll see workout warriors (Darrius Heyward-Bey, Yamon Figurs, Dri Archer) who show up at the combine and inflate their draft status, despite the fact that their game tape appears to show serious flaws. However, things may be different for Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley, who appears to be a legitimate diamond-in-the-rough who received little to no attention from draft evaluators prior to lighting up the combine last week.

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Conley tied for the third-fastest 40 time among receivers with a 4.35-second time, and both he and West Virginia’s Kevin White, who tied with him, were particularly impressive because they were able to run that time at a significantly larger size than J.J. Nelson and Phillip Dorsett, who finished at the top of the leaderboard but fit the “track star” mold when it comes to on-field skill sets. He also set all-time record among receivers for both the vertical jump and broad jump and finished fourth among receivers in the bench press.

Conley was especially limited in his productivity during 2014 as Georgia transitioned more heavily towards a ground-and-pound offense. During the time that he was utilized, however, he showed some very strong skills which should allow him to have a long career in the NFL as a role-playing receiver with the potential to start.

Conley’s strongest skill at the moment is as a deep threat, as his explosiveness and exceptional straight-line speed allows him to get a strong jump off the snap and blow past corners. He can also be a real weapon in the endzone, as his strength and physicality will enable him to come down with contested balls, especially against smaller defensive backs. He’s a receiver with the ability to consistently pick up yards after the catch, as he’s not simply content to go down at the point of contact after getting possession.

He does need to improve his route-running skills, and his catching skills aren’t the most polished; he needs to rely less on his body to come down with tough receptions. Obviously, his lack of college productivity is also going to work against him a bit as he tries to establish draft stock.

Conley’s expected draft position is highly debatable at this point. He certainly didn’t seem likely to be selected before putting himself on everyone’s radar with a spectacular combine performance, but now that everyone has had a chance to go back and look more closely at his film, he could definitely move up boards. Conley’s previous low profile may hold him back, but if teams are willing to take a bit of a risk and judge him on the talent that he’s showcased both on tape and at the combine, he’s good enough to merit a selection in the middle rounds.

POSITIVES: pretty good size…legitimate deep threat as well as a strong endzone weapon…solid separation skills, uses hands well to fight off defensive backs…very impressive catch radius…can make catches in tight windows…quality straight-line speed…good YAC guy, big and physical and can evade tacklers…fantastic combine performance could boost his reputation as a highly athletic project player…strong in the classroom; consistently has been a part of SEC and athletic director’s academic honor rolls.

NEGATIVES: seems to rely on his body to make catches more than most NFL receivers do…doesn’t always get in the best position to make plays…had some bad drops during the course of the season…rather minimal college production, career highs in catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns were 45, 657, and eight, respectively.

2014 Summary: Conley’s workload dropped in 2014 as the Bulldogs made their offense more run-based to accommodate first-year starting quarterback Hutson Mason and highlight star running backs Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb, so his catch total decreased from 45 in 2013 to 36 in 2014. However, he was able to take full advantage of those catches and recorded career highs in receiving yards (657) and touchdowns (eight). Conley was the Bulldogs’ leading receiver for the second straight year, and he led the team in receiving touchdowns.

Talent Grade: Late Fourth/Early Fifth Round

Rams Role: The Rams may be in the market for a receiver, especially if 2014 starter Kenny Britt departs in free agency, but also if they’re seeking an insurance policy for Brian Quick and a possible upgrade over Chris Givens. Conley would be a good match for the Rams, as he’s a high-upside player who should be available once they’ve addressed other needs and can more reasonably look at the receiver position, which figures to happen in the mid-to-late rounds.

Conley shares the well-built body type of guys like Britt and Quick, whom the Rams were able to use well in 2014 because of their physicality and ability to go up for contested balls. He would definitely be an interesting fit with the Rams and would fit in with the affinity for SEC players that the organization has had since general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher took over in 2012.

Film Watched: vs. Arkansas (2014), vs. Louisville (2014), vs. Kentucky (2014), vs. Vanderbilt (2014), vs. Tennessee (2013)