James Conner: More Than A Feel Good Story

by Hasan Rahim ·

Height: 6-1
Weight: 233
Age: 21.1
40-Yard Dash: 4.65 (27th percentile)
Speed Score: 99.7 (58th percentile)
Burst Score: 105.8 (4th percentile)
Agility Score: 11.72 (12th percentile)

Best Comparable: Jeremy Hill

James Conner Rookie Report

James Conner projects as a power back in the NFL who will use his 6-foot-1, 233-pound to punish opposing defenders. Conner declared for the NFL Draft after compiling 4,145 yards and 56 touchdowns from scrimmage. Despite playing only two full seasons, Conner posted a 34.4-percent College Dominator rating, which is 73rd-percentile among NFL running backs, despite averaging only 5.5 yards per carry (46th-percentile).

As a sophomore in 2014, James Conner was No. 3 in the country in rushing touchdowns, No. 7 in rushing yards, and No. 11 in total yards from scrimmage. His time as a true bell cow back helped him win the 2014 ACC Offensive Player and ACC Player of the Year awards, beating out players such as Jameis Winston, Duke Johnson, and Jamison Crowder. An MCL tear and Hodgkins Lymphoma diagnosis derailed Conner’s 2015 season.

Returning to action in 2016, James Conner was no. 10 in the nation in touchdowns from scrimmage, even though his rushing production took a hit. Conner saw less rushing attempts under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, resulting in a drop off in rushing production and efficiency. However, Conner showcased good receiving ability, catching 21 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Among running backs who caught 15 or more passes, Conner’s 14.4 yards per catch was good for 5th best in the nation.

James Conner Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

James Conner lived up to his power back stereotype at the NFL combine and Pittsburgh’s Pro Day. Posting a 4.65 40-yard dash (27th-percentile), 105.8 Burst Score (4th-percentile), and 11.72 Agility Score (12th-percentile), Conner appears to be a short-yardage specialist with a nose for the end zone.

Although James Conner creates through brute force (just ask the Clemson defense), his lack of speed and limited agility could prevent him from seeing bell cow duties at the NFL level. Although he flashed some receiving pedigree, Conner would be best paired with an established dual threat running back as a rookie. His physical play style and physical stature could help him flourish in the right offense.


James Conner has been praised by multiple outlets for his strong work ethic and tough mentality. Rehabbing an MCL tear whilst simultaneously undergoing chemotherapy puts Conner solidly in the Wayne category. Hopefully, James Conner becomes more than just a feel good college football story.