Winner of The Main Event: No Decision
There could be a case made, albeit we are only in the month of November, that this year’s Michigan vs. Ohio State game featured as many as 5 first round DB prospects. There is a logjam at the top of the class at CB, specifically this year, as there are currently 12 ranking in the November Top 100 Big Board. To put things into perspective the CBs that end up ranking in the top 2 or 3 will be certainly drafted in the first round while the ones that end up between 10-12 could be drafted in the third or even fourth round. Needless to say there is a lot of money on the line and today was a great chance for Gareon Conley and Jourdan Lewis to showcase their talents and make a case for being among the top of their class.
Neither player jumped off the chart today and screamed first round talent, like Adoree Jackson did in his effort today for USC against ND. Both CBs have strong reputations for being excellent cover guys. Perhaps the best compliment a QB can give to a CB is to avoid his side of the field. We saw a lot of that today as neither CB was targeted more than 5 times in a double over-time game.
Jourdan Lewis is a little smaller than the blueprint for today’s NFL at 5’10 175 pounds. Lewis is featured mostly outside for Michigan but with his quickness a lot feel like like his best position will be covering the smaller and quicker slot WRs on Sundays. It seemed as though JT Barrett’s first read was often the man Lewis was covering today. As mentioned earlier, Barrett only challenged Lewis a couple of times, which means that some of the pressure that Michigan’s front four was able to force was due to Lewis doing his job well and forcing Barrett into his second, or third reads. There were a couple completed passes thrown at Lewis but they were to be fair excellent throws. Jourdan’s best play on the day came on a option play. He read that his teammate was going to take away Barrett’s option to keep so he jumped the back and blew the play up in the backfield for a big loss. Unfortunately, Lewis missed a tackle in the backfield later in the game and appeared to struggle getting off of a block on other running plays.
One things scout love about Conley, unlike Lewis, is his size. Conley is 6’0 195 and looks the part. Like Lewis, Conley didn’t make a ton of plays but played well enough to keep the football away from his man most of the game. Also like Lewis, his man beat him a couple times for smaller gains. Conley didn’t have an impact on the running game either but this isn’t an area Conley struggles in, his number just never came up to make a play today. Conley wasn’t on the field for every snap like you would expect a first round CB prospect would be. Keeping Conley fresh is just a luxury that Ohio State can afford with Marshon Lattimore starting opposite Conley and the young Denzel Ward continuing to be hard to keep off the field. Conley’s best play came in a huge moment of the game. Conley broke up a pass on 3rd down in OT forcing Michigan to kick the field goal that preludes the Curtis Samuel game winning touchdown. Michigan fans will be quick to question if that play should have been flagged for pass interference and perhaps rightly so. As the play stood, however, a huge play was made by Conley in a winning effort.
Not enough evidence this week to go either way. Call it inconclusive, call it too close to call, call it a tie.
While you are enjoying college football this weekend join NFL scouts by putting your grade on these marquee individual match-ups with draft implications. We will revisit the “Main Event” early next week to see who came out on top of their battle.
#26 Jourdan Lewis, Michigan, CB
#8 Gareon Conley, Ohio State, CB
#33 Jamal Adams, LSU, S
#14 Justin Evans, Texas A&M, S
#55 Carl Lawson, Auburn, Edge Rusher
#56 Tim Williams, Alabama, Edge Rusher