Football Intelligence –He's pretty heady to first diagnose a play and does well to shade into position to attack. He's confident in reads and will defeat blocks in space with anticipation. Like how he handles keys both vs. inside run and on stretch plays to the boundary.
Tackling –He has some nice flashes, particularly when he's slashing through gaps and crashing into the mesh point. That said, he's not very effective in head up situations to wrap and roll with authority and his range offers some issues trying to stay into the body of ball carrier.
Block Shedding –Not impressed with how he tries to address blockers working down into a gap, he'll get turned out and bullied by OL. He has good aggressiveness in this area and holds his own well enough but it's not a winning quality.
Competitive Toughness –He's pretty fearless and has a good attitude about sticking his face in the fire. He's not super stout and he's not going to stonewall pulling guards but he brings what he has. He's a tough dude, played through injury at the end of 2018.
Lateral Mobility –He's got some nice down-hill juice between the numbers but he can be really tested when the ball works any further than that. He's ideally an ILB but not a MIKE because he doesn't have the sideline to sideline range to play reliably the full field.
Coverage Skills –He's pretty modest in his ability to stay sticky and doesn't appear to have the kind of dynamic short area close to attack and challenge the ball. INT vs. Miami came on a lucky deflection. Wouldn't ask him to tackle assignments in man to man coverage.
Gap Shooting Ability –He will slash when he sees a play, but he's too out of control to reliably plug gaps on a down by down basis. He'll get blown up by lead blockers and pullers, doesn't have the hands to bring and stun to offset a push and keep himself clean in the alley.
Feet/Change of Direction –Doesn't have the kind of short area agility to bob and weave through traffic, he's an angles guy. When he's forced to adjust his angles on the fly he doesn't have the same mobility and will be challenged to find the football.
Flexibility –He's not necessarily tight but he doesn't maximize his mobility on his frame. Instead, he'll open his hips and play linear as he's looking to work into position when the ball is pushed into the boundary. Shows good coil and hinge as a tackler and contortion ability to test radius.
First Step Quickness –There's some suddenness that, when paired with his anticipation, can really flash and allow him to make some strong plays of the ball ask he keys plays developing. He doesn't have elite burst or anything but can win from the second level.
BEST TRAIT - Football IQ
WORST TRAIT – Functional Strength
BEST FILM – Penn State (2018)
WORST FILM – Northwestern (2018)
RED FLAGS – Missed 2018 bowl game with INJ
Ryan Connelly projects as a modest starting linebacker at the pro level. He lacks elite qualities from a physical perspective but he's a pretty heady player who has good football pedigree coming out of Wisconsin. Connelly may never be an impact pass defender but he'll offer enough in zone coverage to warrant a push for a starting role if he continues to increase his ability to attack blocks and is not asked to be a true MIKE due to range.
ROUND GRADE - Fifth Round