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Randy Gregory, the junior defensive end from the Nebraska Cornhuskers, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after back-to-back productive seasons. Gregory was named Third Team All-American this year, as well as First Team All-Big 10 in both 2014 and 2013. He was voted Nebraska’s defensive MVP in 2013 and totaled 115 tackles, 17.5 sacks and 24.5 TFLs during his career. He totaled 7 sacks in ’14 after an impressive 10.5 in ’13. Physically, Gregory is tall, long and lean and lacks the weight needed to be a traditional 43 defensive end. At this juncture, he’s more of a 34 OLB. He’s listed at 245 lbs, and while he’s clearly a guy that keeps himself in good shape, he lacks the power and overall size to hold the point versus the run; he gets overpowered and sealed out of plays way too easily. Athletically, Gregory has a good twitch and can get off the ball quickly, but at times his snap recognition is lacking and he’s one of the last defenders to get moving. And while he has a good first step, he’s a little tight in the hips; He’s forced to take choppy steps in order to change directions. He’s a strider who can make a play in pursuit, but he plays with a high pad level which makes him an easy target to get knocked off track when trying to chase a ball carrier down. He’s a raw athlete with good flexibility. Against the pass, Gregory is a flash player who will show up in the quarterback’s face when they least expect it. Many of his successful pressures came from the 2 pt stance, where he appeared more comfortable and more natural when setting up his pass rush. He possesses some promising pass rush moves, including a speed rush and club/rip. His hand play improved in 2014, but he’s still a work in progress. He needs to keep himself clean to win. Against the run, Gregory is a bit of a liability. He possesses the kind of length and lean frame that when combined with his ability to move quickly at the snap, allows him split the gap and make plays in the backfield. But it doesn’t happen consistently enough to make up for the number of plays that he is physically manhandled and driven out of the play. He struggles to shed blocks, and generally relies on speed to win.
BOTTOM LINE: Randy Gregory will be drafted higher than his talent suggests simply because of his athletic ability and potential to become a very good pass rusher in the NFL. That said, he is a major liability in the run game and a player who is likely to be on the field as a situational pass rusher until his strength and overall skill set improves. Gregory must become better at using his hands in an effort to keep the opposing lineman off of his body, as once he is tied up/engaged, he generally loses. Gregory is the kind of player that you draft not based on his body of tape. You draft him based on the confidence you have in your coaching staff to get the most out of his impressive foundation of burst and explosion. He needs a lot of work. Boom or bust here.
GRADE: 7.5 (2nd Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)