Why Undrafted?: Te’Von Coney

Why Undrafted?: Te’Von Coney, LB, Notre Dame
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Five years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Three years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

Notre Dame is one of the most high-profile programs in college football and had a lot of huge games over the past few seasons. One defender who constantly had his name called and was around the ball for the Fighting Irish defense was linebacker Te’Von Coney. As a junior, he totaled 116 tackles with three sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss and one forced fumble as a tough run defender for Notre Dame. Coney stayed consistent in 2018, collecting 123 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, one interception and four passes broken up. Considering Coney has good size at 6-foot, 234 pounds with quality times in the 40, it was surprising that he was not drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft.

In speaking to sources from multiple teams, the same reasons came back for Coney, including stiffness and being just an average athlete. That caused teams to feel that Coney could have issues in pass coverage in the passing-driven NFL team. One team source said their team had him graded on Day 3 and he just slipped through the draft. Others had Coney as a free agent.

After going undrafted, Coney signed with the Oakland Raiders, and that was a great choice for a team to break into the NFL with. The Raiders’ linebackers were awful in 2018, and the team has zero long-term players, with a starting trio made up of declining veterans. On top of not having any long-term answers at the position, Oakland didn’t draft a linebacker until the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Over the course of their careers, the members of Oakland’s coaching staff have been willing to give undrafted players an honest shot at a roster spot and playing time, so Coney should not be discriminated against for not being a draft pick. Coney could make the roster or the practice squad with the Raiders, and he has a great opportunity to stick with an organization after signing with Oakland.

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