Notre Dame Star Linebacker Goes Undrafted?

04/29/2019

Last Saturday was all she wrote for the 2019 NFL draft. This class seems to be riddled with talent, all the big names and highly anticipated athletes getting picked up in just about every round. All the great corners didn't start getting picked up until the second round. Stand out receivers Hakeem Butler, Miles Boykin, and D.K. Metcalf all were picked considerably later than expected. And Will Grier drafted at 100th overall. Solid players were picked up throughout the whole draft and the future of the NFL sounds promising.

Photo by onefootdown.com

With so much talent in one class, there was a number of high-quality players who did not get their named called over three days of waiting. But a big one that stands out to me is Te'von Coney, linebacker out of Notre Dame. What is so surprising about Coney going undrafted is what he has accomplished in college and how high he was expected to go.

Once upon a time Coney was on the watch list for the Butkus award and projected to go late in the first round in a few mock drafts. So many linebacker list rankings had Coney in the top ten, some being ranked as high as third in the country. But after a lot of thinking I have thought of three reasonable factors that come to mind as to why he did not get drafted. Looking at what he did in college, none of his stats stand out besides tackles, and typically scouts want more in a linebacker than a conservative tackler.

Right after his senior season ended, Coney would be in the gym quite often. He bulked up a bit and defined his body even more. This may sound like a good thing but there is a bad history of players getting a bigger body than what they used to play as, becoming slower than they used to be and muscle memory in many football moves can tamper when the body goes under a size change. And the third reason adds onto that case, looking up his combine profile you will find blank stats. He did have his combine workout, but he never recorded any official times or measurements of his athleticism, and not having those can hurt you by a large margin in draft stock.

Despite all those factors he was still projected to go in rounds 2-5 and I don't think those reasons were enough to go undrafted entirely. That being said, I still think Coney is going to be a great player in the NFL for undrafted free agent standards. Though he is mainly just a tackler in what is found under his stat sheet he is the best at what he does, virtually perfecting the wrap-up tackle. Year after year it is obvious he is getting better at what he does with 239 of his 313 career tackles in his last two years with the Irish and was number one in almost all tackling stats his junior year. He brought poise and leadership to his defense in an undefeated senior season and that is something a stat sheet can't tell you about this guy. He alongside Drue Tranquill made their defense a well functioning unit whenever they took the field.

I personally think the whole Notre Dame roster was underrated this year especially after an undefeated regular season, but Coney going undrafted just baffles me. He didn't have to wait too long after though. His leadership on and off the field was recognized by the Oakland Raiders and they made that call just moments after the draft. How he develops in the NFL is a story many should pay attention to.  He will be fighting for a starting position soon enough.

- Isaac Lingelbach