And the Cowboys sparked yet another controversy of character with this selection.
Randy Gregory fell in the draft because of his off-the-field issues and a failed drug test at the scouting combine. Even though the experts (and guys I trust, like Dane Brugler) say he’s a top talent, the character concerns have weighed heavily on the young man’s career transformation to the National Football League. Perhaps the most heavily scrutinized aspect of the pick is the fact that Gregory stipulated in advance of the draft that he would require the assistance of a “babysitter” from which ever team drafted him.
Many criticize the mandate as evidence of his inability to bring value to the Cowboys’ defense, but I – and many, many others (@CowboysNation, for one) – believe the fact that he was brave enough to not only acknowledge his short-comings, but seek direct guidance to overcome them, coupled with the experience Dallas has in this area (RE: Dez Bryant), makes for one of the better scenarios Randy Gregory could have possibly hoped for.
Jerry Jones is no stranger to adversity in the locker room. A trait that could very well allow Gregory to outlast his woes on the way to a stellar NFL career in Dallas.
Now, let’s take a look over Dane Brugler’s evaluation of Gregory from his 2015 NFL Draft Guide:
3. RANDY GREGORY | Nebraska 6047|235 lbs|4JR Fishers, Ind. (Hamilton Southeastern HS) 11/23/1992 (age 22) #4
2011: Arizona Western Community College GRADE 1st Round
2012: Arizona Western Community College (Redshirted) MEASUREABLES Arm: 34 | Hand: 10 | Wingspan: 81 7/8
2013: (13/10) 66/19.0/10.5/1/1 (Nebraska) COMBINE 40-YD: 4.64 | 10-YD: 1.61 | 20-YD: 2.71 | BP: 24 | VJ: 36 1/2 | BJ: 10’05”
2014: (11/10) 54/10.0/7.0/1/0 (Nebraska) PRO DAY 3C: 6.79 | LS: 11.81
Total: (24/20) 120/29.0/17.5/2/1
BACKGROUND: A football and basketball recruit out of high school, Gregory was committed to Purdue, but admittedly had a case of “senioritis” and allowed his grades to decline, failing to academically qualify for the NCAA level. He considered going the basketball route instead, but enrolled at Arizona Western Community College and dominated on the football field as a freshman in 2011, drawing interest from several FBS programs. However, he suffered a broken fibula in his left leg during practice as a sophomore and his recruitment cooled, redshirting and missing the entire 2012 season. He was still committed to Purdue, but de-committed after the coaching change and transferred to Nebraska, choosing the Huskers over UCLA and Oklahoma because of his connection with the coaches. Gregory was an unknown in 2013 at Nebraska, but the redshirt sophomore quickly earned a starting job (10 starts) and led the conference in tackles for loss (19.0) and sacks (10.5), earning First Team All-Big Ten and team MVP honors. He battled through injuries as a junior, but started 10 games and finished with a team-best 7.0 sacks, adding 54 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss and one forced fumble. Gregory again earned First Team All-Big Ten honors in 2014 and chose to skip his final season in Lincoln to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
STRENGTHS: Explosive get-off to burst upfield quickly with terrific speed and range…looks natural in space with easy ankle flexion and change of direction skills to easily redirect and close…fluid dip and body control around the edge with lateral quickness to flatten…long strides to effortlessly accelerate in pursuit to chase and catch ballcarriers – often lined up on the field side with his athleticism to play the run in space…unlocks and uses his length to swim and club as a pass rusher…not shy extending and shooting his hands into blockers with violent, aggressive limbs at the point of attack – initiates the action and enjoys talking to get in the head of opponents…uses his length well to work off blocks with improved hand use to hold the edge – dynamic movements to never be out of the play…competitive and scrappy, always seeking out contact and forcing opponents to account for him…reliable motor and fights to the ball, looking to get involved – not a spectator and won’t give up on plays…improved ball awareness to read the play with quick reflexes, staying home and not overpursuing…doesn’t often lose contain, doing a better job anchoring at the point of attack…experienced at left and right defensive end with his hand on the ground or a two point stance…highly productive during his two seasons in Lincoln (20 starts) with 29.0 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks and 34 QB pressures, including two blocked kicks in 2014.
WEAKNESSES: Lanky frame and trunk with skinny limbs…lean lower body and can be knocked off his feet with below average body girth…questionable growth potential and needs to sustain a consistent weight, allowing for too much fluctuation over his career…can be overmatched by power in the run game, lacking the functional strength to consistently dispose of blockers in his path…struggles to generate pop as a pass rusher without momentum and too easily slowed, even by off-balanced blocks…needs to improve his hand strength to be a consistent finisher once he makes contact…late to recognize zone reads and needs to play smarter…snap anticipation has room for improvement to capitalize on his edge speed…needs to keep his emotions under control and harness his passion…tends to wear down later in games with questionable toughness and threshold for pain, often leaving the field of play for minor injuries…durability needs investigated after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee (Aug. 2014) that caused him to miss one game followed by a concussion (Nov. 2014) that forced him out of another game…history of anti-depressant and marijuana use, including two failed tests during his junior season and a failed drug test at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine – very concerning habit.
SUMMARY: The son of parents both stationed in the Air Force, Gregory moved eight times growing up and played mostly offense until his sophomore year in high school when he settled in as a pass rusher. He wins with his first step quickness, flexible frame and natural length, displaying the explosive traits to be an impact pressure player. Gregory has experience standing up and blitzing different gaps, showing the change of direction skills and developing instincts to play on his feet, but is unproven dropping into coverage as a linebacker. He has a puzzling weight timeline with his pounds fluctuating between 220 and 250 pounds in college, lacking an ideal frame to sustain bulk. Gregory was routinely banged up at Nebraska and the tape shows a concerning trend from game-to-game that will bring up toughness and durability concerns in the NFL. He has the active motor and athletic traits that will excite NFL teams, but he has two strong on-field concerns that create doubt: functional strength and growth potential. Due to those size concerns, Gregory is best suited standing up at linebacker in the NFL with massive NFL upside, but his risk is almost as high, especially with the uncertainty of his off-field habits – top-20 talent with question marks.
With Demarcus Lawrence having a little more experience behind him, and minus an injury that sat him out the first half of 2014, I think Gregory has a shot to come in and make an immediate impact on this defense as a rotational EDGE rusher.