Bill O’Brien Visits Georgia For Pro Day
Houston Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien was spotted at Pro Day for the University of Georgia this past Wednesday. It’s the time of year for coaches to really start scouting out players for the upcoming NFL Draft, so it makes sense that O’Brien would take the time to visit Georgia.
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O’Brien was said to be the only head coach at the Pro Day, and he seemed to take a particular interest in wider receiver Chris Conley. According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, Conley and O’Brien spent some time together in the interview room.
"“A little bit about philosophy and a little bit about just the way that I prepare and the way that I play the game,” Said Conley regarding the interview, “I had a pretty good, almost an hour meeting with him.”"
It makes sense that O’Brien would be scouting the wide receiver, given Houston’s need to fill a hole at the position after the recent departure of storied Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson. While the recent signing of former Jaguars wide-out Cecil Shorts takes off some of the pressure, Houston still will likely need to find another player to help fill Johnson’s role.
Conley never put up huge numbers while at Georgia, totaling only five 100-yard receiving games in his four year career. At this year’s NFL Combine, however, he drew the eyes of many scouts.
The 6-3, 205 pound receiver ran a 4.35 second 40-yard dash, and had some of the top bench press, long jump, broad jump, and vertical jump statistics at the Combine. While these types of tests may not always determine who will be an elite player, they are enough to cause coaches to give Conley’s tape a second look.
Chris seems as though he would be a great addition for any team, and Houston could do worse than drafting him. ESPN’s Ivan Maisel wrote a feature about him this past August, describing not only his work ethic, but also his character and impact off the field.
"“I think everybody who’s ever met him wants to hire him,” Said Georgia coach Mark Richt regarding Conley, “Whoever coaches him is going to fall in love with this guy, because of his ability, because of his coachability, because of his leadership, how he’ll affect the locker room.”"
With this combination of physical tools and great character traits, it’s not hard to see why Bill O’Brien has taken an interest in him. A player like Conley may not have the greatest history of production, but at least there’s little risk of him being a locker room disruption or making waves on the team.
In fact, it seems like he may be one of the more NFL-ready prospects coming out of college this year. With so many college teams running spread offense packages, Georgia’s pro-style strategy can be great at preparing players for the next level.
"“There’s a lot of overlap in what we do and a lot of [NFL] teams do, not only in scheme but in the routes specifically,” said Conley. “We may run the same routes sometimes but call them something different. But the way we read coverage and the way we run routes is similar to a lot of teams.”"
This preparation can be key for a rookie, and could allow Chris to come right into the league this year and have an immediate impact. With his limited college statistics, it’s also fairly likely that a team like Houston could grab him later in the draft, getting very good value.
Other former Georgia players that worked out for NFL scouts on Wednesday include quarterback Hutson Mason, center David Andrews, cornerback Damian Swann, and linebackers Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera. While O’Brien didn’t privately meet with any of these players, he undoubtedly made notes of them as potential draft choices.
The headline of Georgia’s Pro Day, however, did not include any physical activity. Former Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley attended the Pro Day and met with reporters, but did not work out due to a knee injury he suffered last season. Gurley is optimistic about the Draft and about his future, but continues to be unable to fully work out.
Gurley is projected to be one of the top running backs drafted this year, despite this injury.
"NFL.com’s draft profile claims that Gurley “Has the talent to be a top-five NFL running back, but ACL tear clouds the short-term picture.”"
With current Texans running back Arian Foster’s injury history, it’s certainly possible that Houston could be looking for a new star to take his place. It does seem unlikely, however, that the Texans will pursue Gurley given the high draft pick he will likely command.
As the only head coach to attend Georgia’s Pro Day, it is clear that Bill O’Brien is very serious about checking on these Bulldogs, in particular Chris Conley. Hopefully this visit payed off and will lead to some efficient decisions in the upcoming draft.