Name: Matt Conrath
We finish up the examination of “futures guys with NFL experience,” by looking at defensive lineman, Matt Conrath.
Conrath joins the Steelers after three seasons with the St. Louis Rams.
At Virginia, Conrath started for the Cavaliers all four seasons, totaling 182 tackles (29.5 for a loss), 10.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections and four forced fumbles. His most productive season came his senior year where he had a career best, 66 tackles, three sacks and three pass deflections along with two forced fumbles. That season, he was named First-team All-ACC as a defensive tackle. Conrath was not invited to the NFL scouting combine. He was ultimately signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent.
In St. Louis, Conrath surprised many in training camp, playing well enough to make the Rams 53 man roster. He played in one game that season, however.
In 2013, Conrath stayed on the roster and saw an immense increase in playing time. In eight games, he recorded seven tackles and a sack.
Coming into 2014, Conrath’s future with the Rams became murky when they drafted defensive tackle, Aaron Donald in the first round and signed former Buffalo Bills defensive lineman, Alex Carrington in free agency. With an already top-notch defensive line getting even better, Conrath’s chances of making the roster dwindled. Conrath made it to final cuts, but ultimately was let go by the Rams prior to the 2014 NFL season.
He signed with the Rams practice squad after clearing waivers. On September 11th, he was called up to the active roster to replace injured defensive end, Chris Long. He was then cut September 15th after wide receiver, Stedman Bailey finished his suspension. After being released, he re-signed with the Rams practice squad where he remained the remainder of the season.
What Does The Tape Say?
Conrath is a high energy and high motor player. Always around the ball. Fairly quick for a defensive tackle. Uses body length well. Excellent at deflecting passes. Strong at the point of attack. Pushes the pocket well. Versatile, can play around the defensive line. Elevates players around him with his presence. Takes very high angles when engaged against offensive lineman. Relies on his strength too much opposed to technique. Struggles to disengage off guards and centers. Doesn’t go low when rushing which hurts his pass rush ability.
The main concern with Conrath is the angles he takes when going against offensive lineman. While his 6’7 frame helps him deflect passes, it hurts his ability to rush the quarterback and beat lineman. He also tends to rely on his upper body strength too much which gets him caught sometimes. Finally, he simply does not go low when rushing the quarterback, meaning he takes offensive lineman head on creating a strength battle that limits his effectiveness.
Conrath is intriguing with a Steelers defensive line in need of depth. The fact that he made the Rams twice as a player and ended up on the active roster for a short time in 2014 is promising. The Rams sport arguably one of the best front fours in football and have consistently had great defensive lines since 2012.
In terms of his fit with the Steelers, he has a shot. Cam Thomas has been abysmal to say the least and with Brett Keisel now gone, the Steelers could use a couple rotational guys to provide depth. He’s already known in the Rams circle as a training camp darling which bodes well for his chances. Overall, barring a veteran being signed to the defensive line, Conrath figures to have a decent shot to make the roster if he can beat out fellow defensive linemen Joe Kruger and Ethan Hemer.