Once considered a lock for the top ten, Randy Gregory’s draft stock became much more fluid when reports hit that he failed a drug test at the NFL Combine. A player who was a pipe dream for the Baltimore Ravens may have become an option after the failed drug test, but new questions emerged. Can the Ravens, a team which has dealt with constant off-field issues from bit players, handle drafting a guy with a red flag like this?
Discuss in the BSL Forums here
Start with Gregory’s draft stock. How much this news affects his stock is unclear considering that Gregory was a known marijuana user before the positive test. Gregory claimed that elevated THC levels from past use caused the positive test, which, if true, makes this less of an issue.
The Ravens have not put much stock into minor incidents in the past, taking chances on Jimmy Smith and Timmy Jernigan, among others. Ravens’ fans and analysts are also not concerned about Gregory’s drug test.
@63brubaker of course….they don’t care about that stuff as much as other teams. Jernigan is a prime example.
— IHJJR (@iHateJJRedick) March 29, 2015
@63brubaker if he’s best available, which would be likely if still there, then yeah
— Master Swami Tsu Lin (@LBoogieOnSports) March 29, 2015
The topic has also been discussed in the Baltimore Sports and Life forums.
There is a different atmosphere in the NFL now, though, as the PR storm against the NFL has heightened the glare on players’ misdeeds. That is especially true for the Ravens, who have seen a rash of player arrests the past two years. The Ravens have developed a reputation for having troublemakers, deserved or not, and they need to take that into account.
That said, on the list of possible transgressions, a positive drug test for marijuana is a very minor infraction, and Gregory has said all the right things before and after the failed test with regards to his marijuana use (assuming he’s telling the truth).
As with all questions of draft picks’ character, the Ravens will examine it the way they always do: “If the negatives outweigh the positives, we tend to release the player,” Ravens team president Dick Cass said. Though Cass was speaking about players currently on the roster, the same logic can be applied to the draft. And in Gregory’s case, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Explosive first step
When Gregory times the snap, there are few players at any level who are more explosive. His quickness often gets opposing tackles off balance, resulting in easy pressure for Gregory. Note on the picture above how Gregory is already over a yard up field just as the ball hit’s Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook’s hands.
Great hand usage/pass rush moves
Here, Gregory uses a push-pull to take advantage of an off-balance tackle. At just 243 pounds, Gregory has great strength on moves like these. Further, sensing the opponent’s lack of balance and using the push-pull is a great example of football intelligence at work.
On this next GIF, Gregory (lined up at right end) uses his go-to swim move. Look at how quickly his right hand moves in getting past the opposing tackle.
Few college pass rushers have anything more than a speed rush and a bull rush, but Gregory has a couple of moves in his arsenal. His go-to move, his swim move, is deadly, and he flashes some other moves as well.
Good motor in getting after quarterback
This play is a summation of everything that is good about Gregory (lined up at left end) as a prospect.
Gregory uses his swim move (kind of) to get positioning on the tackle. Then, being held, Gregory continues to pursue the quarterback, getting just enough of the quarterback’s arm to force a fumble. When the quarterback is in his sights, Gregory will not let half-hearted blocks get in his way. He hurdles attempted chop blocks, runs through holds and does everything he can to get his hands on the quarterback.
Doesn’t always time snap well
Gregory (lined up at right end) does not time the snap as consistently as a top-tier prospect should. Plays like this happened far too often.
Doesn’t get off blocks in run game
Here, Gregory (lined up at right end on the bottom of the screen) is a non-factor in the ground game.
Gregory’s lack of size really hurts him in the ground game. Though he doesn’t get pushed around as much as most undersized defensive ends, Gregory’s best case scenario is usually just holding his ground. He doesn’t get off blocks well in the ground game, focusing most of his energy on not getting pushed back. Some time in an NFL weight program should help with this.
Discussed above. Moving on.
Gregory is my top pass-rusher in this class, character concerns or not. He should be able to immediately step in as a situational pass rusher, and with time, develop into a more consistent force in the ground game. Gregory is at his best standing up as an edge rusher, which he would be able to do in Baltimore. Further, with Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw on the roster, the Ravens have their edge setters, so Gregory could focus early on doing what he does best, rushing the passer.
Hoping for Gregory to fall to the Ravens might be asking a bit much, even considering his poor draft season (weighing in at 235 at the combine didn’t help either). If available, though, Gregory would be the best player available, and the Ravens need to pounce and have faith in their ability to keep him on the straight and narrow. Similar gambles have paid off before, and they would pay off again with Gregory.