Picking up where we left off in my series breaking down the best prospects in the state of Washington, we are moving on to the tremendously talented 2022 OL class, and today we are looking at the headliner of the group.
Josh Conerly (OT, 6’5” 270, Rainier Beach HS, WA)
Conerly is arguably the biggest prize of the in-state 2022 class for Washington. 247 currently has him ranked as the top WA state prospect and the #8 OT in the country. From what I’ve seen in his sophomore tape, Conerly has the tools and early fundamentals to become the type of instant impact OL that can supplement a 2021 OL class that was heavier on developmental potential than star power. At a solid 6-5, 270 lbs with good power, natural movement athleticism, and length, Conerly has the tools to be a solid, Power 5-caliber LT whose game is built more on athleticism than sheer size and power.
While expectedly raw in his technique, you can see that Conerly has good traits that carry over well into OL, and more specifically OT, fundamentals. First, he has quick and active feet that are critical on the perimeter of the OL. He keeps his feet moving in shorter and choppier steps rather than longer lunges, and that helps him to maintain a solid base and effective change of direction ability, which are critical in both pass and run blocking. The other trait that stood out was that he has violent hands and knows how to use them. Conerly regularly landed blows in pass protection that knocked them on their rear end, and as impressive as that pop is, he also showed a good understanding of his length and spatial relations. An OL that tries to lunge too early to land the punch in pass protection will lose his balance and base, and an OL that waits too late won’t have enough space to get full extension and power. Conerly didn’t seem to run into those issues, and he always seemed to maintain good balance through out every pass protection rep.
If I were looking for improvement from Conerly over the next couple years, I’d look to see him develop his lower body strength because his run blocking could use a little more drive. Adding a lot of weight quickly might not be the best move for him since so much of his upside revolves around his movement skills. Conerly is certainly big by normal standards, but he isn’t a physical specimen like Kaleb McGary, Penei Sewell, or most of the most recent 1st round tackles. He falls on the lighter/athletic end of the OL spectrum, and I’d probably expect to see him get into the 290s by the end of HS, and play in college at a lean 300-310. His physical projection could be something along the lines of a more physically gifted Roger Rosengarten type of tackle. Rosengarten turned out to be significantly smaller than his commonly cited roster measurements, but physicality still stood out despite a playing style that incorporated a lot of athleticism. Strictly looking at size, Matteo Mele and Luke Wattenberg are also good size comparisons for the type of tackle that Conerly might end up being.
Even without significant improvement in strength or size, Conerly would still be a high-level prospect based on his solid early foundation as a pass protector and the athleticism to be an effective zone blocker. I think he’ll stick at OT based on athleticism and length, but also because I’d be hesitant to say he has the lower body base to anchor on the interior as an iOL.