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This Packers Rookie ‘May Be Steal of College Free Agency’

Two injury-plagued seasons and a late bout with COVID ruined the draft hopes of this 42-game Big Ten starter.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Did the Green Bay Packers land the best player in undrafted free agency?

Potentially, yes, said one NFL scout.

“I love Coy,” one scout said of Iowa offensive tackle Coy Cronk. “If Coy can get healthy and get back to where he was playing before the ankle injury in 2019, then may be the steal of the college free agency class across the board.”

Cronk started 40 consecutive games at left tackle for Indiana before suffering a broken ankle four games into the 2019 season. Dr. David Porter, a foot and ankle specialist affiliated with the Indianapolis Colts, did the surgery.

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Given an extra year of eligibility, Cronk transferred to Iowa, shifted to right tackle and won the starting job. However, COVID-19 had limited his ability to rehab the injury, he struggled through his two starts and was shut down. With his range of motion finally back to normal, Cronk would have been back in the lineup for the bowl game against Missouri but COVID struck the Tigers and the game was canceled.

Cronk entered that 2019 season looking like a legit prospect. The encouraging part was his year-to-year improvement. According to Pro Football Focus, Cronk allowed nine sacks and 28 total pressures in 2016, two sacks and 38 total pressures in 2017, four sacks and 26 total pressures in 2018 and zero sacks and three total pressures in four games in 2019. His abbreviated 2019 season included a game against Ohio Chase’s indomitable Chase Young. The penalty count went from eight to seven to four to two.

So, while there’s some good film on Cronk, scouts had to travel back in time to find it.

“He’s got starting ability, absolutely,” the scout said. “Big, long, good head on his shoulders. He went to Iowa, played in two games and the ankle still was not right. He showed up for Iowa’s pro day and tested positive for COVID. You saw two games in 2020 that were bad and then you’ve got to go back almost two full years where you’ve seen just a few snaps, and then no pro day.”

Cronk, in fact, did have a pro day. A couple weeks after Iowa’s big pro day, Cronk tested just so scouts would have some numbers. His 31-inch vertical jump, which demonstrates explosion, would have ranked eighth out of 36 linemen at the 2020 Scouting Combine. His there-cone time of 7.75 seconds would have ranked sixth of the 25 who performed.

However, while he was COVID-free, he wasn’t back to his peak. Instead, he was gassed. The rest of his testing numbers sealed his undrafted fate.

What Cronk has is experience and length. He measured 6-foot-4 1/8 and 318 pounds with 34 1/4-inch arms. For comparison, Packers fourth-round pick Royce Newman of Mississippi measured 6-foot-5 1/4 and 310 pounds with 33 3/4-inch arms, and sixth-round pick Cole Van Lanen of Wisconsin measured 6-foot-4 1/4 and 305 pounds with 33 3/8-inch arms.

“He’s in a good spot,” the scout said. “If he can stay healthy, he’s got a shot to make it.”