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Raiders 2019 UDFA scouting report: Te’Von Coney can be run-stuffing linebacker of the future

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NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Te’von Coney, LB, Notre Dame

Measurables

6’1”, 229 pounds

4.72 40-yard dash at Pro Day

18 bench reps

Stats

2016: 61 tackles, 1.5 TFL

2017: 116 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery

2018: 123 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 4 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery

Strengths

Coney played in a 4-2-5 scheme at Notre Dame where he and fellow linebacker Drue Tranquill were the only ones patrolling the middle of the field. This scheme required them both to be extremely solid tacklers and not allow rushers to get past them into the secondary, and Coney was an absolute tackling machine with the Fighting Irish. He totaled 239 tackles over his junior and senior seasons along with seven sacks.

He has prototypical size for a linebacker and is absolutely jacked, making the most of his frame with a powerful and muscular physique. His tackling form is pristine and he does not miss tackles or let ball-carriers go once he has his hands on them. He has exceptional field vision and can see and diagnose plays before the snap and during the play. Coney is one of the best run-stuffers available in this draft class, and has exhibited some pass rush ability as well.

Weaknesses

While Coney always knows where he needs to be, he can’t always physically get there with his somewhat limited athleticism and his difficulty getting off blocks. He is powerful enough to shed blockers and use his hands to overpower linemen at the point of attack, he just doesn’t. Why he plays as timidly as he does is a mystery.

Coney’s hips are very tight and he has difficulty with changing direction quickly or involving himself in a play that flows away from him. His closing speed to make a tackle is great, but he needs to become more flexible so that he can be in position to make a play more often. His athletic deficiencies make him a liability in coverage, and he does not project as an adequate third-down linebacker at this point.

Verdict

Coney is a fundamentally sound middle linebacker who will not make many silly mistakes or miss tackles. The Notre Dame defense was one of the best in the country for the last two years and Coney is a big part of the reason why, as the heart of the defense in the middle linebacker role. He was projected to be drafted anywhere from the third to the fifth round, so for Oakland to land him as an undrafted free agent is a minor miracle. He does have some weaknesses that can limit his effectiveness in a pass-dominant NFL, but you won’t find many players in this draft class, drafted or not, who have his non-stop motor and tremendous instincts.

Fit with Raiders

Notre Dame carefully curated one of the best coverage units in college football during Coney’s time, so he didn’t have to cover very much and he wasn’t good at it anyway. The Raiders look to also have a similarly excellent secondary now, and they can get away with using a guy like Coney in the Mike linebacker spot to stuff the run on first and second downs where he excels. For too long the Raiders have been plagued by missed assignments and missed tackles from their defenders, but Coney is as solid as it gets when it comes to the mental part of the game. No “eye violations” here.

Coney’s motor and tackling ability also make him a prime candidate for special teams coverage units, and that’s where he may have to make his mark to begin with as he battles the likes of Jason Cabinda and Marquel Lee for backup linebacker playing time. Coney is arguably better than either of them, so he has a good shot to make the team.

Watch Te’von Coney’s highlights here