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Scouting The 2017 NFL Draft: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh

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We're taking a look James Conner, a battering ram of a back who has the heart of a lion.

Pitt v Georgia Tech

Introduction

Hometown: Erie, Pennsylvania

High School: Erie McDowell, PA

Recruitment: 3 Star

Awards

  • AFCA 1st team All-American (2014)
  • ACC Player of the Year (2014)
  • ACC Offensive Player of the Year (2014)
  • First-team All-ACC (2014)
  • Disney sport award winner (2016)

Measurables

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 235

Class: RS Junior

Projected 40 Time: 4.60

Stats

2013 - 146 carries, 799 yards, 8 TD. 3 receptions, 33 yards.

2014 - 298 carries, 1765 yards, 26 TD. 5 receptions, 70 yards.

2015 - 8 carries, 77 yards, 2 TD. 1 reception, 7 yards.

2016 - 216 carries, 1092 yards, 16 TD. 21 receptions, 302 yards, 4 TD.

Positives

  • Came back from a torn MCL injury to produce in 2016
  • Lot of heart, fought Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and is now cancer free.
  • Powerful runner with a lot of lower body strength.
  • Has a great stiff-arm that allows him to gain extra yards.
  • Fights off arm tackles easily and keeps churning away.
  • Has a nose for the end-zone and has multiple years of great production.
  • Improved his blocking and pass catching as a RS Junior.
  • He hits defenders as much as they hit him.
  • Unforgiving downhill runner. Hard to stop once he has momentum.

Negatives

  • It should check out, but teams will pay close attention to his medical records.
  • Doesn't have a great deal of speed, needs to run around 4.55 pre-draft to raise stock.
  • Although he's shown improvement, his hands are still very inconsistent.
  • Doesn't have a great deal of open field moves.
  • Lateral quickness and patience is something he'll need to work on.

Conclusion

It's hard not to route for James, he's come back from a lot of set-backs in his life and not only has be come back, but he's come back and been productive as well. You get what you see with Conner, he's an unforgiving downhill runner that will punish anyone whose heart isn't in the tackle. He's not going to dance behind the line and stretch it outside easily in the NFL, but I have no doubt he'll be productive.

He'll be a great short yardage guy straight away, and a good red-zone/goal-line back as well. I see a little LeGarrette Blount in Conner, and I think he'll probably get drafted lower than his eventual NFL production will warrant. He's a physical guy who's got a lot of intensity and a lot of heart. Any NFL team should want a guy like that on their roster.

Draft Round Prediction: 4th-5th round