As a redshirt freshman, Conley stepped into the starting lineup against Michigan State for an injured Eli Apple. He did not fare well against the Spartans' strong passing game that day, forcing an injured Apple back onto the field. Over the past two years, however, Conley has started every game for the Buckeyes. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick in 2015 (two interceptions, five pass breakups) and then graduated to second-team all-conference as a junior (four INTs, eight PBU).
Has NFL size with above-average length. Plays long. At his best when playing with inside leverage and trapping receivers against the boundary. Shades receivers with a basketball stance -- wide base, bent knees and wide arms. Creates challenging throwing lanes to target. Allowed just 37 percent completion rate. Press-man talent with zone instincts. Shows discipline and technique on verticals and curls. Matches with his feet rather than grabbing. Senses when his pattern is designed to clear space for another receiver and reacts accordingly. Has plus burst to the throw. Uses length to play around receiver and bat passes down underneath without interfering. Runs well and sinks into receiver's lap down the field, getting his head around to make a play on the ball. Plays the ball with soft hands and outstanding timing.
Can be a little tight-hipped in his transitions. Pattern-match was just average when facing off against more advanced route trees. Michigan receivers created separation and some panic in Conley with their inside releases and crossing routes. Got caught reaching and holding in attempt to recover. Will occasionally default to face-guarding rather than turning to find ball. Can be slow to digest route combinations and lose track of his man. Doesn’t look as comfortable or confident in off-man. Plays small in run support and needs to work on consistency as a tackler. Gets driven off his spot by blocking receivers and rarely charges forward to attack near the line of scrimmage.
Sources Tell Us
"He's not as good as the other cornerback (Marshon Lattimore), but he's a good corner. If he measures over 6-foot and runs in the low 4.4s he will come off the board on Thursday night." -- North area scout for NFC team
Press-corner with experience at both cornerback spots and an ability to fit into a variety of coverage techniques. He plays with good top-end speed and has the ball skills to challenge and defend passes on any level. He can step in right away in zone coverage, but could struggle to match patterns from a pedal. He will likely be targeted by teams seeking long cornerbacks who can crowd and trail receivers down the field. He has the talent to become an early starter, but he must improve in run support.