Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
Best player available. That's it. That's why I took Randy Gregory with the 15th pick. It's that simple. While I was waiting to be on the clock, I made a mini draft board. The names that I had down as targets were Kevin White, Brandon Scherff, Trae Waynes, Vic Beasley, Danny Shelton, DeVante Parker, and Randy Gregory. The order that I had the prospects listed was not in the way that I had them ranked. As my turn grew closer and closer, the list of targets shrank. By the time the Dolphins were on the clock, Randy Gregory was the only one left on my list. In what seemed like forever, I waited for the Dolphin's GM to make his selection whilst hoping that he wouldn't take Gregory. I was in a state of limbo for approximately an hour and a half as the Fins GM deliberated his pick with the rest of his front office. I was unsure who I was going to take if the Dolphins took Gregory. Two minutes after the Dolphin's pick was in, I checked my email to see if it was my turn and indeed it was. When I saw that the Fins passed on Gregory, I immediately turned in my pick.
The 49ers currently have Aldon Smith and Aaron Lynch as their starters with former starter Ahmad Brooks and Corey Lemonier as their backups. However, both Smith and Brooks' long terms plans with the team are in question; Smith with his off the field issues and Brooks with his cap number and his unwillingness to split time with Lynch. Gregory would be able to go to a team that is set at the position that he plays. He would be able to hone down his craft with the help of Smith. If Gregory plays to his potential, he can eventually replace Smith or Brooks should they not be on the team in the future.
Athleticism- One of Gregory's biggest strengths is his athletic ability. In this past season's matchup against Michigan State, on the second play of the game, he used a swim move to beat the left tackle. He was then engaged with the left guard, but was able to get off the block from the left guard and make a pick. (:10) In the same game against the Spartans, the Spartan's fullback tried to throw a cut block against Gregory. Gregory, however, avoided the cut block and just got enough of the running back to bring the back down. (5:19) Furthermore, during this past season, he recorded two blocked field goals, which shows off his explosion and vertical. One of his blocked field goals came against Rutgers (4:32) and the other came against Minnesota (5:09).
Oh yeah, here's the obligatory spider chart for all of you spider chart lovers out there.
Hand usage- Gregory's favorite pass rush move is the swim move. He is able to set up lineman for the move at ease. Once he does, Gregory uses his hands well to get past linemen. In the game against Wisconsin, he was lined up against the left tackle. He initially tried to bull rush, but used the swim move to counter when he was initially stopped. Gregory was then able to put a hit on the quarterback. (:39)
Versatility- In the five games that I watched of Gregory, he was lined up in a variety of places. He was lined up at right defensive end, left defensive end, and defensive tackle. In addition, the Nebraska coaching staff had Gregory line up at outside linebacker as well as inside linebacker. When he was lined up at outside and inside linebacker, he was only asked to rush, so dropping into coverage would be something that he would have to work on to fit into the Niners' 3-4 scheme. However, as previously mentioned, Gregory is extremely athletic so dropping into coverage shouldn't be an issue for him.
Motor- There was stretches through a game that Gregory was invisible. But, in each game, he makes a few "wow" plays.
Shedding blocks- Once he was engaged with a player, he generally was stuck to that player. However, he should be able to improve this aspect of his game due to good hand use.
Weight- Gregory's listed weight at Nebraska was 235, but when at his pro day he weighed in at 238. Because of his weight he wasn't able to hold up against the run game. He was usually pushed back easily by opposing lineman.
Off the field- There was a reason why this once thought of top five prospect was available at 15. Gregory recently admitted to NFL Media that he had failed the drug test at the combine. He said that he had not smoked since December, but his THC levels were still high enough to cause him to fail the drug test. However, this wasn't the first time Gregory had failed a drug test. During Gregory's senior year of high school, he committed to Purdue. But during the latter portions of his senior year, his grades dropped. He subsequently wasn't able to academically qualify for Purdue. Purdue gave him the choice of attending Arizona Western Community College or Iowa Western Community College for two years then transferring to Purdue. He would eventually de-commit following a blowout loss to Minnesota and after the firing of Purdue's then head coach. After arriving at Nebraska, he failed two drug tests. The failed drug tests occurred in January of 2014 and in April of 2014. Gregory said that Nebraska officials told him that he would be kicked off the team if he failed a third test. Gregory said that he turned to marijuana to deal with anxiety issues.
Randy Gregory has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, albeit he needs to put on some weight. Gregory's biggest obstacle to becoming successful comes off the field. Veteran players such as Justin Smith or NaVorro Bowman need to take Gregory under their wing to make sure that he stays out trouble off the field. Gregory is a boom or bust type of prospect, but the reward outweighs the risk at this point since he was taken with the 15th pick and not a top five pick.
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