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pghrob

Dynasty Watch 2017 Rookie & Former Pitt RB James Conner

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Granted I am a Pitt alum and therefore biased, but whichever team drafts James Conner is really going to look smart.  

I really like his prospects.  His open letter to NFL GMs was well done. One team is going to be lucky to pick him.

If he falls to the third round I can see him being the steal of the draft.

Not to mention, you have to wonder what he could have done as an outside linebacker or edge rusher.  I watched his defensive plays while in college and he dominated when used there.  

He has one hellava motor.

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2017 NFL Draft Live Analysis: Fantasy Football Values

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Pittsburgh Steelers: James Connor, RB – Terrific/inspirational story. Connor is another power running back with decent speed and vision. However, he struggles at the second level with the more powerful linebackers and lacks the speed to beat the quicker backers and outrun the secondary. He’s a no nonsense runner with more determination than most (not surprising given his story) and is a smart pick in the mid-late rounds given Le’Veon Bell‘s history of missed games.

 

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Steelers selected Pitt RB James Conner with the No. 105 overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Connor (6’2/233) took college football by storm as a 2014 sophomore, earning ACC Player of the Year with 26 rushing TDs only to tear his right MCL one game into his junior season. Conner was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma later that year, yet remarkably returned to post a 216-1,092-16 (5.06 YPC) rushing line in 2016 and set a career high with 21 receptions. While a great story, Connor’s post-cancer tape was that of a plodding grinder, lacking burst and winning purely on straight-line force. Conner’s likeliest NFL projection is an early-down thumper with short-yardage and clock-killing value like a poor man’s LeGarrette Blount.

 

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What I really like is the whole familiarity aspect.  Not only has he spent 4 years in Pittsburgh, but Pitt actually has a facility at Heinz Field.  If anyone knows this guy, it's the Steelers.  Love the story, love the guy's "cover letter", and while I'm definitely not rooting for Bell to get hurt (own him in 1 league), I really want Conner to do well.

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This is the kinda pick that says so much about the Steelers.

I'm a Jets fan and I'll never not be. But I do like everything the Steelers do from the top on down.

 

These type of picks seem to always work for the Steelers. I'm hoping he's there around my 3rd rounder (3.10) but im guessing he won't be

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Just now, Dope said:

This is the kinda pick that says so much about the Steelers.

I'm a Jets fan and I'll never not be. But I do like everything the Steelers do from the top on down.

 

These type of picks seem to always work for the Steelers. I'm hoping he's there around my 3rd rounder (3.10) but im guessing he won't be

Yeah.  They have had quite a run on drafting excellent WRs too.

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2 minutes ago, grateful zed said:

will he be bells primary backup from the get go?

Have to think so since currently Fitzy Toussaint is currently the backup. With Knile Davis behind him. 

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7 minutes ago, Boone22 said:

Have to think so since currently Fitzy Toussaint is currently the backup. With Knile Davis behind him. 

is he a long term solution or jag?

any word on his contract offer?

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31 minutes ago, grateful zed said:

is he a long term solution or jag?

any word on his contract offer?

I feel like he's a JAG.  I'd love to like him, went back to rewatch some film including before he had leukemia and just could not get excited. Just not a lot of juice and super stiff. 

Contracts are slotted around where you get picked for most part, so he'll make close to what the player picked in his area made last year. Prosise went within a few pick of where he went and got about $3.2m for 4 years and he'll be close to that.

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13 hours ago, menobrown said:

I feel like he's a JAG.  I'd love to like him, went back to rewatch some film including before he had leukemia and just could not get excited. Just not a lot of juice and super stiff. 

Contracts are slotted around where you get picked for most part, so he'll make close to what the player picked in his area made last year. Prosise went within a few pick of where he went and got about $3.2m for 4 years and he'll be close to that.

If Bell goes down, he can be JAG behind that line and he'll still do well.

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17 hours ago, grateful zed said:

will he be bells primary backup from the get go?

Absolutely.  I am having a difficult time valuing him as I'd love to have him in 3 years, but that's a long time to wait on a maybe.

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Feels like a player that will always be destined to be a handcuff.  That said, I can't imagine many people not rooting for this kid.  Great story.

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Take a look at this highlight from the 2014 season before he had his knee injury and had to go through the chemo for cancer. In particular check out the breakaway speed he shows at the 11 minute 30 second mark in the game against North Carolina. After he hits the hole look at the separation that he gains on the defensive back that's closing in on him from his rear right.  https://youtu.be/a1BbJU9eTmE

Across this set of highlights from the 2014 season you can see the vision the shiftiness the power and the determination with which James Conner runs.

When he came back in 2016 he was still recovering. There's no reason to think with more time and rehabilitation and enhanced training and energy reserves from healing that from a athletic performance standpoint he's not going to be every bit as good if not better than what he was in 2014.  We saw he could dominate against division one competition in 2014. 

I'm excited to see what he can do with one more year of healing under his belt here in the pros under the coaching of an NFL team, behind  a dominant offensive line,  and  practicing alongside Le'Veon Bell.

Edited by pghrob
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Steeler Coachs gotta love this kid..

Seriously, hes from Erie..  Solid stats in H.S., and played for the University of Pittsburg.   Its most likely been his dream to play for Pitt.. 

 

Whats with them Jersey sales eh  (2nd only too TB12)

 

Team captain known for incredible resilience and mental toughness. Leaned down and added more muscle mass this season. Arm tackles are a waste of time. Carries heavy momentum behind pads at finish. Drops shoulder to punish final tackler. Uses wicked stiff-arm to punch and swat tacklers to the ground. Creates for himself through brute force. Natural power in lower half. Doesn't need a clean point of entry for aggressive, downhill charge. Excellent contact balance despite heavy shots on his legs. Short-yardage specialist who can move the chains and score touchdowns. Willing to leave his feet and sacrifice body near goal line. Willing blocker in pass pro and showed ability to come out of backfield in wheel routes, swing passes and outs.

I understand that some may have injury concerns..  There is many variations of both injury severity, and corresponding treatments for meniscus injuries..  I'm not so sure its going out a limb to say James had a full recovery.

My beef if ya will is on his height..  James is 6'2", and just so happened to play on his defensive line in H.S.  So hes a large, strong man   I honestly don't have a personal preference on height for a RB.  I mean I think ideally 6' 225lbs, but it doesn't mean much..  However 6'1" turns a light on, but 6'2" is a bit of a concern at this point..

I don't believe its much forecasting to imply that Pitt most likely intended to alleviate some of the extra workload from Bell..  James was somewhat obviously a player to consider in certain situations, for instance perhaps TD only Leagues (I dunno)  But, Ive been reading comments from Bell, stating that hes expecting compensation that rivals a combination of pay for a RB, and a WR..  Most likely based on total touch's..  Its been noted that Pitt is more known to possibly let a HOF'er walk, than overpay.  Don't believe that?  While lets not forget that the overall premium placed on the RB position has declined.. I also believe more teams are realizing the value in strength of an awesome OLine too..  I mean seriously Pitt owns a Top 5 OLine!

Thoughts,,  Any chance Pitt drafted their future RB1?   I know I'm gonna make plans to try an follow this player

Edited by Dismattle
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Absolutely love this kid's story and am pulling for him big time.  He's got a ton of heart and mental toughness to go with his bulldozer body and running style.

 

Unfortunately in today's NFL, his lack of quickness and ability to process situations in a timely manner are going to really hold him back, IMO.  He seems to struggle in reading play flow and cannot create for himself at all.  That also causes him problems in pass protection on who to pick up before that guy is by him.

 

I'd love to see him as a Bettis clone, but I think he's going to end up like a Samkon Gado - a short yardage guided missile you aim at a hole and then either hope it's open or that he can move the pile enough to get some positive yardage.  Man do I ever hope I am wrong on him though.

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Everyone is (or should be) rooting for this guy. 

Unfortunately, I think he's a special teams guy. Hopefully he's a special teams Ace and gets Pro Bowl nods for that. And gets paid. Ideally he has a long career, a fan and community favourite and is an awesome locker room guy.

As a RB, he's just too slow and too stiff. 4.65 at the combine says a lot. More so when you see how he runs. The other thing is that he's the opposite style of runner as Bell. Sliding and holding a block to allow Bell to find a hole is a lot different than bull dozing a specific gap for Conner to plow through. Not to say they can't but it's just different and they would need time to properly adjust. 

Here's a link to his Draft Breakdown games. 

Edited by Borden

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He's definitely one to watch this preseason.

 

Tex

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Been following him for a while.  It would be hard to find a better story.  He definitely has the talent to play on Sundays, especially in the Steelers offense.

Future RB1? 

While I think that is probably unlikely, I know one thing, I would never bet against James Conner.

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He's no Le'Veon, but he wouldn't have to be to put up big fantasy numbers behind that OL and with Brown and Bryant keeping Safeties out of the box.

Conner's a nice late 2nd/early 3rd round dynasty target if you think Le'Veon is going to push for big money in FA and be willing to go the Kirk Cousins route of playing through a couple franchise tags to get there. 

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I know I'd get two sides too a discussion from loyal Steeler Fans..  Seriously most Coach's need a back who can take it to the house.. (LOL, Their offense is so weak, they'll tell ya they need it!)  I'm also almost certain Coach Tomlin has had plans in the past too utilize, more than a single every down back..  Conner at H-back OR Bell at flanker

But my real question is where would they go, moving forward..  I mean yeah we could speculate they drafted an awesome RB for their scheme.  However, What about the next draft?  Do they look for an early round, every down Bell-like player?  Or  Lets say a 3rd round, 3rd down type back..  One could be a change of pace/rest, keep the chains goin, while the other could mean split at best.. I guess I'm just being a bit negative, not too mention putting the cart before the horse..  But, we do know Big Ben is gonna wanna stay in the pocket, so it makes sense to have an awesome blocker (size/power)

Apologies for ad nauseam discussion, if not ignorant speculation..  But Ive seen teams continue to trot out bigger backs in the past, which sorta had me scratching my head.. Yeah, I'm referring to The Bus for example..  Id lose focus on the fact that hes moving the pile, and think about other backs who make hi-light reel plays.  The kind that cut back in a lane, and wham 60 yds down the field for a TD..  I'm not trying to appear stupid or double talk..  I love big backs like Earl Campbell, and I enjoyed watching The Bus quite often!  But man The Bus has a hell of a smile, and a can do spirit too.  It just sorta makes me think that a Coach may be willing to work w/ Conner IF hes just got that type personality/charisma.  So yeah, even if it starts out just as help w/ ST's..  Guys may fiend off that Spirit, Energy brought into the mix.. 

Thanx for links, and the ADP info  (sorre about dispelling errors)

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Hu-Tang Clan said:

He's leading the NFL in jersey sales for rookies right now too and #2 behind Brady.

Jersey sales

3 behind Brady and Dak. I'm sure a big reason is that he's from Pittsburgh area and played at Pitt so people in the area have been following him for awhile. He's a great story but I'm not sure he's more than a committee back

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9 hours ago, Borden said:

Everyone is (or should be) rooting for this guy. 

Unfortunately, I think he's a special teams guy. Hopefully he's a special teams Ace and gets Pro Bowl nods for that. And gets paid. Ideally he has a long career, a fan and community favourite and is an awesome locker room guy.

As a RB, he's just too slow and too stiff. 4.65 at the combine says a lot. More so when you see how he runs. The other thing is that he's the opposite style of runner as Bell. Sliding and holding a block to allow Bell to find a hole is a lot different than bull dozing a specific gap for Conner to plow through. Not to say they can't but it's just different and they would need time to properly adjust. 

Here's a link to his Draft Breakdown games. 

Matt Waldman made  observations that he was noticeably quicker pre illness and may have still been recovering in 2016 (I think Connor's remarks were that he was 60-70%). It's noticeable to me viewing those clips.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=833LALBOBtg

RSP write up:

Conner has starter upside if he can get quicker. According to Conner, he regained his pre-illness quickness, but he didn't run the drills at the Combine to help us determine how true that is. When I studied his underclassman tape, his value was in the range of the top 5 backs in this class. If he has regained his quickness, he could be a good NFL starter behind a strong Steeler offensive line. LeVeon Bell has already made waves about his contract. Connor is a boom-bust pick at this spot. If you can get him in the fourth round, it would be an ideal investment on a player who could either wind up a surprise fantasy RB1-RB2 for several years or a long-term reserve-goal line back.

Edited by 3optic
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This is just mho, but I think most every back will show noticeable change..  It could be damage, maybe it often is..  But I believe the innate desire to preserve, comes into play..  I'm actually most impressed when I cant see any difference.  (Its a much more willingness for reckless abandon)  For instance, I don't believe Jammal Charles showed any signs of holding back..  While at least after a few games back, when I was able too watch!

I'm really not too sure theres much more info to be found on his injury..  Basically, I almost want to believe theres some merit in the knowledge he gained from rehab/conditioning..  He most definitely knows what that type of injury feels like..

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40 minutes ago, 3optic said:

Matt Waldman made  observations that he was noticeably quicker pre illness and may have still been recovering in 2016 (I think Connor's remarks were that he was 60-70%). It's noticeable to me viewing those clips.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=833LALBOBtg

RSP write up:

Conner has starter upside if he can get quicker. According to Conner, he regained his pre-illness quickness, but he didn't run the drills at the Combine to help us determine how true that is. When I studied his underclassman tape, his value was in the range of the top 5 backs in this class. If he has regained his quickness, he could be a good NFL starter behind a strong Steeler offensive line. LeVeon Bell has already made waves about his contract. Connor is a boom-bust pick at this spot. If you can get him in the fourth round, it would be an ideal investment on a player who could either wind up a surprise fantasy RB1-RB2 for several years or a long-term reserve-goal line back.

Waldman's take is the only one we need to read until he gets to training camp. If he plays well in August he could shoot up to the Derrick Henry ADP stratosphere in dynasty leagues. 

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15 minutes ago, Dismattle said:

I'm really not too sure theres much more info to be found on his injury..  Basically, I almost want to believe theres some merit in the knowledge he gained from rehab/conditioning..  He most definitely knows what that type of injury feels like..

 

Guessing you're referring to Conner's Hodgkin lymphoma. In that case it is entirely a conditioning issue and not tentativeness. Presuming he did not play or train for a year.

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5 hours ago, 3optic said:

Matt Waldman made  observations that he was noticeably quicker pre injury and may have still been recovering in 2016 (I think Connor's remarks were that he was 60-70%. It's noticeable to me viewing those clips.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=833LALBOBtg

RSP write up:

Conner has starter upside if he can get quicker. According to Conner, he regained his pre-illness quickness, but he didn't run the drills at the Combine to help us determine how true that is. When I studied his underclassman tape, his value was in the range of the top 5 backs in this class. If he has regained his quickness, he could be a good NFL starter behind a strong Steeler offensive line. LeVeon Bell has already made waves about his contract. Connor is a boom-bust pick at this spot. If you can get him in the fourth round, it would be an idea investment on a player who could either wind up a surprise fantasy RB1-RB2 for several years or a long-term reserve-goal line back.

I respect Mr. Waldman but I have to disagree. The game tape in the video that you linked is one of the Draft Breakdowns that I linked. 

If you go to that same game at 3:42 in the video (about 12:30 in the 4th) you'll see a good example of his lack of speed as he isn't fast enough to get the edge against #6 of NC who has to do a 180 to get to the edge. If you watch the beginning of the 2014 Miami game you see his lack of speed again. 

I think "a surprise RB1-RB2 for several years" is an unreachable goal. He does seem to be comfortable catching the ball and maybe he has a Tolbert like career but anything else seems like too much wishful thinking. He just doesn't have any elite physical traits.

Edited by Borden
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38 minutes ago, 3optic said:

Guessing you're referring to Conner's Hodgkin lymphoma. In that case it is entirely a conditioning issue and not tentativeness. Presuming he did not play or train for a year.

No sir.  James suffered an ACL injury.   I actually thought I read torn meniscus.   Appreciate the post

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1 hour ago, stuckinthemuck said:

Waldman's take is the only one we need to read until he gets to training camp. 

 

You're going to have to help me understand your position here.  In my experience, despite the loads of work he puts in Waldman hasn't struck me as being more (or less) successful in his prognostications than a lot of others.

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When I did my Rookie RB he topped the list. Michael Turner without the burners is what I saw.

Like his talent, hate his situation this year. He's a grinder.

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Hey Guys  

my apologies but I misspelled James name in the search engine, so I didn't see the pre draft thread..  Think we should hope to see Broncos question answered, and move on to the original thread..  It looks like Faust already has a few good links worth of reading in there too..

p.s.  I know ya aint as upset as me   I searched a few times and I only seen his name "James Conner" in like rookie pick drafts..  I was like woah, this kid probably aint my first or even 2nd rnd pick, so hes gotta have a thread.. 

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2 hours ago, Dismattle said:

No sir.  James suffered an ACL injury.   I actually thought I read torn meniscus.   Appreciate the post

Ah my bad. Must have missed that, thank you.

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9 hours ago, Borden said:

I respect Mr. Waldman but I have to disagree. The game tape in the video that you linked is one of the Draft Breakdowns that I linked. 

If you go to that same game at 3:42 in the video (about 12:30 in the 4th) you'll see a good example of his lack of speed as he isn't fast enough to get the edge against #6 of NC who has to do a 180 to get to the edge. If you watch the beginning of the 2014 Miami game you see his lack of speed again. 

I think "a surprise RB1-RB2 for several years" is an unreachable goal. He does seem to be comfortable catching the ball and maybe he has a Tolbert like career but anything else seems like too much wishful thinking. He just doesn't have any elite physical traits.

Its never popular to be the bearer of bad news but I will take you for your word of giving honest observations.

I haven't watched Conner myself yet, so I do not have a opinion about him from that perspective.

What I read as positives regarding him however, it just seems like feel good story fluff. Cancer is terrible and I wish everyone could fully recover from this dreadful disease, but the desire for this feel good story seems to be the main thing driving people rooting for him, not much else.

I just don't get the sense that people are really touting Conners talent so much as they are making excuses for why he may not look very good in games (as you observe). Those excuses and wanting it to happen for the feel good story are not going to make him a better football player.

He has the same name as the savior of Sarah Conner. Another pretty useless reason to like the guy.

I'm trying to keep an open mind as I haven't watched him yet. But reading people touting him does not give me the sense that they actually think he is a good RB. They just like the guy for other reasons.

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On 07/20/2017 at 9:00 AM, Bronco Billy said:

Absolutely love this kid's story and am pulling for him big time.  He's got a ton of heart and mental toughness to go with his bulldozer body and running style.

Unfortunately in today's NFL, his lack of quickness and ability to process situations in a timely manner are going to really hold him back, IMO.  He seems to struggle in reading play flow and cannot create for himself at all.  That also causes him problems in pass protection on who to pick up before that guy is by him.

I'd love to see him as a Bettis clone, but I think he's going to end up like a Samkon Gado - a short yardage guided missile you aim at a hole and then either hope it's open or that he can move the pile enough to get some positive yardage.  Man do I ever hope I am wrong on him though.

He made guys miss against Penn St by giving defenders that dead leg and they whiffed. He amassed some big yardarge in that game with some slick hips.

Then I watched his game against UNC, and picked up another impression. And now I'm smelling what you're stepping in. He def missed holes, and/or lacked the get up to make it there; although he displayed some good power. Also, he can't make guys miss in tight spaces.

I don't know about his speed though, because I've seen DBs not catch him. :shrug: Maybe they were slow DBs.

It's hard to tell about this guy, but for sure, he's no Le'Veon Bell.

Edited by cloppbeast

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Last season, James carried the ball 216 times.  He broke 19 of those for 20+ yards. (About one breakaway run every 11 carries, almost identical to the rate of Joe Mixon for instance).  By all accounts, his strength and endurance was not 100%.

The year before he got injured and discovered the hodgkin's lymphoma, he had 1765 yards(5.9 per carry) and 26 TDs dispite being the focus of every opposing defensive game plan.

His hips and feet are not the fastest.  His straight away speed isn't elite.  But, he punishes tacklers.  He finishes his runs and becomes a nightmare late in the game.  He has a nose for the endzone, has decent hands and can pass protect well.  He's a smart guy, and his character is off the charts.  Barring injury, I think he will have a place in the NFL for some time.

Will he be a star?  We shall see.

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2 hours ago, brewer said:

Last season, James carried the ball 216 times.  He broke 19 of those for 20+ yards. (About one breakaway run every 11 carries, almost identical to the rate of Joe Mixon for instance).  By all accounts, his strength and endurance was not 100%.

The year before he got injured and discovered the hodgkin's lymphoma, he had 1765 yards(5.9 per carry) and 26 TDs dispite being the focus of every opposing defensive game plan.

His hips and feet are not the fastest.  His straight away speed isn't elite.  But, he punishes tacklers.  He finishes his runs and becomes a nightmare late in the game.  He has a nose for the endzone, has decent hands and can pass protect well.  He's a smart guy, and his character is off the charts.  Barring injury, I think he will have a place in the NFL for some time.

Will he be a star?  We shall see.

Metrically he's comparable to Jeremy Hill who, as we know had a heyday behind the formerly efficient Bengals OL. There was a sense from coaches that Hill lost potency because of what was "between the ears" more than lack of ability. We've seen many unexceptional athletic talents have success in the NFL behind quality OLs.

The hope would be that A) Steelers confirm for themselves what they saw and liked  from watching his tape  B) they don't bring in a vet like DeAngelo Williams and C) when given opportunity, he achieves the expected production and the offense runs efficiently.

Another factor would be intangible, i.e. His ability to focus, work hard, be undeterred by set back. I can't quantify how these influence the odds but I'm sure all agree it's a significant factor with backs who fit his archetype (*physical high effort bangers* for lack of a better name).

 

Also apparently he's a good blocker and we know how big a part that can play with coaches who seem to regard it as more vital than any other ability!

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24 minutes ago, 3optic said:

 

 

Also apparently he's a good blocker and we know how big a part that can play with coaches who seem to regard it as more vital than any other ability!

 

He graded out as a terrible blocker at PFF and most of his scouting reports reference that as a weakness.

 

.

Edited by Bronco Billy

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1 hour ago, Bronco Billy said:

 

He graded out as a terrible blocker at PFF and most of his scouting reports reference that as a weakness.

 

.

Way to to rain on our confirmation bias parade.

Edited by 3optic
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would have liked to get him in my rookie drafts but just not a big believer. he went late 4th in both of my IDP drafts. I would have taken him at 5.10 if he was there I think.

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