The expected starting secondary is already in place well ahead of the 2017 season, but Baltimore’s front office has made it no secret that adding another cornerback is still a priority in the draft. If Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome wants to add a cornerback with the No. 16 overall pick, a potential candidate is Ohio State’s Gareon Conley.
Conley was once considered a likely day two pick, but he’s garnered serious pre-draft buzz thanks to a stellar combine workout, and he’s put himself into the conversation in the middle of the first round.
“I don’t think it would be a tremendous reach if they took Gareon Conley from Ohio State,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said on a recent episode of “The Lounge” podcast. “I think he’d be a really good player for them. Height, weight, speed, can really play the ball down the field.”
Conley, 6-foot-0 and 195 pounds, has ideal size for an NFL cornerback. He’s big enough to match up against imposing receivers like A.J. Green or Dez Bryant, and his 40-yard dash time of 4.44 seconds shows he has plenty of speed to run alongside vertical threats.
Conley was mostly overshadowed last season because Ohio State also had cornerback Marshon Lattimore on the other side of the field. Lattimore is widely viewed as the best corner in the draft, and he attracted most of the attention in the secondary.
But Conley was still highly productive, and he started every game over the past two years. He earned second-team All-Big 10 honors last year after notching four interceptions and eight passes defensed.
Another element that seems to have pushed Conley up draft boards is that the cornerback class has taken some notable hits. Washington’s Sidney Jones (torn Achilles) and UCLA’s Fabian Moreau (torn pectoral) both suffered injuries at their pro days, which will likely hurt their draft stock. As they’ve dropped, Conley has risen.
Overall, this year’s cornerback class is rich with talent. The Ravens believe they could get a quality player in the second or third round, but Jeremiah pointed out that there’s a risk if the Ravens were to pass on Conley, or any other corner, in the first round.
“They could [wait until the second round], but I think the only risk is that you’re going to see a run on these guys in the late first, early second [round],” Jeremiah said. “If you pass on somebody that maybe felt just a little bit early for where they’re picking at No. 16, you might get shut out on a bunch of dudes before you pick again. You better have a long list of names that you’d be OK picking in the second round because I do think we’re going to see a run on these guys.”