Shane Ray, the redshirt junior defensive end from the Missouri Tigers, enters the 2014 NFL Draft after a spectacular 2014 season in which he set the single-season school record for sacks (13.5) while also racking up 21 TFL. Ray was a 2014 consensus All-American, First Team All-SEC, and the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. For his career, Ray totaled 116 tackles, 32.5 TFL, and 18.5 sacks. He didn’t start for Missouri until this past season, but he was productive in a reserve capacity in 2013. Physically, Ray is a tweener at 6’3” and 245 lbs. He doesn’t appear to have the kind of physical makeup needed for DE in a 43; he’ll have to add about 10 more lbs in order to confidently fit into that scheme. He has the kind of natural size and movement skills to project to OLB in a 34. Ray’s lower-half is lean and somewhat “skinny” and it shows up in the run game; he struggles to hold his ground as a result of the lacking power and strength in his legs. Athletically, Ray is a quick-twitch guy who has the ability to flash by his opponent in a moment’s notice. He’s coordinated and generally under control. Ray explodes at the snap of the ball and is constantly moving at 100mph. He has solid COD ability, although he’s a bit tight in the hips and tends to chop his feet when trying to gear down and get moving in the opposite direction. Ray is exceptional with his hands when rushing the passer; he is violent when slapping away the OT’s punch and he has an array of pass rush moves that are already developed enough to threaten NFL veterans. He has a VG rip move and I noted successful swim moves as well. Ray also flashed a spin move, although he doesn’t appear as natural or fluid with it. He wins with speed to the edge, as he is consistently one of the first and quickest players to fire off at the snap of the ball. Ray dips and bends really well and has the kind of juice needed to be a real threat as a pass rusher in the NFL. Against the run, Ray is a high energy guy who fares better when chasing in pursuit than he does when the play is run at him. While he does a decent job shedding and getting off blocks, there are times when he simply appears overpowered; he doesn’t have the kind of base to hold up in those situations in the NFL and that’s a big concern for next level play.
BOTTOM LINE: Shane Ray projects as a very good pass rusher who will be a bit of a liability in the run game if he doesn’t bulk up more. The need for players like Ray (explosive pass rusher) is always high, and he’s likely to get over-drafted a bit because of it. That’s not to say that Ray won’t be a very good situational player in the NFL, because I do think that he is going to be a playmaker in passing situations. With the high-octane passing offenses currently ruling pro football, a guy like Ray is exactly the kind of weapon needed on defense.
GRADE: 7.7 (2nd Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)