Monday, January 19, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #1 - Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football.  By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better.  It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.)
Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska - 6'6, 240 - Age 22
One of the first rules of draft evaluations is to avoid mock drafts and rankings as to not just go through an exercise of confirmation bias.  We want to assume nothing about these guys and just let our eyes be our guide.  That said, anyone who watches college football knows that Gregory has been at the top of the lists all year long.  He is a very impressive specimen.  I watched the USC, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Miami games.
What I liked:  He is clearly a sight to behold with very long arms and a slender build that makes you think Aldon Smith as a possibility on the edge just ruining plays.  He can be a very active pass rush guy and when he sees something in front of him, he has this explosive gear that is uncommon.  They also try to move him around and he can either stand or put his hand down and has some Clay Matthews explosion and versatility from all sorts of spots.  Some games he looks like he can get off the ball quick, but others he is the last guy out of his stance.  On his game, he attacks in a blur. He is clearly far more a tools prospect than a finished product and unfortunately, his 2013 was more productive than his 2014 in almost every category.  Against the run, he can get to the sideline with a runner and keep contain.  That speaks to his future as a LB or a very athletic pass rush DE.  His best attribute might be his swim moves.  Very solid.  He is active on pass rush and he plays faster if he can smell the ball.  He is great using his hands on a tackle to gain an edge.
What I did not like:  I really look for a high motor in my front 7 defensive players as I know Rod Marinelli wants that badly.  We will trade motor for ability to a certain point, but for the most part, I need a guy that is always chasing.  I did not see that consistently from Gregory.  Some weeks, every play looked important.  Other weeks, it did not.  I am not sure what his true position is because as a 4-3 defensive end, he is not strong enough for me.  His weight is a red flag (too light), but I have seen guys make that weight work because they are quite strong.  He is slender and is not winning much on leverage or power, so I think he has to be an outside LB on a 3-4, most likely.  His pass rush moves seem awfully under-developed and raw.
Summary: There is no doubt he has off-the-charts upside and rare physical traits that the NFL loves to value.  I don't think he is a scheme fit in Dallas and while he might be a guy who develops into a monster, I am looking for a bit more polish for my projected Top 5 picks, usually.  I like him, but I sure expected more.  The Miami game was fantastic, but his final game - the Bowl game against USC was not very impressive as a whole.

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