Scouting Report written by: Jimmy O'Brien
At just over 5’10″ and 206 pounds, Gray is an average sized back, who is physically well put together with notable foot quickness, elite lateral agility, and good body control. He’s a mature, productive player, who displays elusiveness both in the hole and in open space, the ability to bounce the play to the outside, solid receiving skills, and short area burst. Gray also demonstrated the willingness to put team goals ahead of personal acclaim, throughout his entire tenure at Texas A&M, where he shared carries in a backfield rotation, until pressed into more extensive duty due to injuries to running back mates. He’s not flashy or explosive, and he missed the end of the season, bowl game, and Senior Bowl due to injury. As such, he’s fallen out of discussion when comparing the top running backs of the class. But, Gray does everything well, and his ability to make people miss is impressive, and will allow him to be productive at the next level. He’s more than just a running back by committee chess piece; he can handle twenty carries per game and, though not a punishing runner, he gets stronger as the game goes on. Gray has legitimate second round talent, but will probably still be available into rounds three or four. The team that selects him could get more than they expect; if he can stay healthy, he may end up among the top running back performers from the 2012 class.
Gray is not blessed with first rate speed, or game-breaking burst, though he will effectively bounce runs to the outside and get to the second level. Although he ran a 4.47 40 at the combine, he doesn’t play at that speed on the field, and, in many instances, Gray was caught from behind when breaking off long runs. He’s quick rather than fast, starting and stopping without losing momentum, sinking his hips to accelerate out of breaks. He displays natural bend in the knees in traffic, or when changing direction in the open field, allowing him to make sudden cuts at full speed. Though not a pile driver, Gray exhibits solid leg drive and generally runs with a good forward lean, displaying the combination of power and balance to fight through arm tackles, and he does tend to remain strong throughout the game. The most impressive part of Gray’s game is missability, or the ability to elude defenders. Here, he fluidly breaks laterally, without gearing down, able to stick his foot in the ground and redirect his motion across the face of the defender, or across the entire formation. Gray is creative in the open field, and is highly elusive in traffic, able to make defenders consistently miss in tight areas. He occasionally uses the jump stop, and shows solid ability to set up opponents, getting them leaning, then breaking the arm tackle. When able to crack through the line, Gray quickly visually dissects the defense, identifying cutback lanes and defender locations. Here, he seems to see the whole field, and is able to pick his way through traffic by anticipating defender moves and using lateral agility and good short area acceleration to counter them. His style truly embodies the old Tom Landry axiom “run to daylight.” As a receiver, Gray is solid, but not stand-out, typically making the expected catches, usually on screens, flats, and swing routes. He gets his head around quickly to locate the pass and displays coordination and body control, both in route, and when battling for the ball. In blitz pickup, he exhibits a solid frame and toughness. When he uses good leverage and positioning, he’s effective and sticks with the defender through impact though this part of his game could use refinement and added consistency.
Gray lacks suddenness in the hole and a true home run gear; as such, he’s not a threat to take a simple stretch play and turn it into a ninety yard touchdown. At times, he can have his pad level high after taking the handoff, and is often tentative approaching the line of scrimmage, especially in short yardage situations. Here, he “dances” while looking for the hole, when what is needed is lowering the shoulder and employing good leg drive for the needed two yards. Though he runs with decent power for his size, he isn’t a pile drive, or goal line back, and won’t rack up a lot of yards after contact. As for vision, Gray displays only average skill pre-snap or when approaching the line of scrimmage, and often loses the opportunity for the short gain by trying to bounce the play outside, or in looking for the big hole or cutback lane. He isn’t a downfield threat in a vertical passing game, and, although he’s a willing and serviceable blocker, he’ll need to solidify technique here, especially if he wants to see the field early in his pro career, where he could break into the lineup initially as a third down back.