Randy Gregory’s tumultuous absence from the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys has been documented at length. It’s a story that has a tremendous amount of ups and downs as his rollercoaster ride through addiction and mental illness and his return has captivated Cowboys Nation.
When the Dallas Cowboys made Randy Gregory their second round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, the front office readily admitted they were taking a chance on a top-10 talent. Gregory had failed a drug test at the NFL’s Scouting Combine, but the chance to get one of the best players in the draft that year was too much to pass on.
Still waiting on the payoff for that second round risk, Gregory is 100% reinstated and with the team at training camp. As Inside The Star Staff Writer Brian Martin writes about Gregory and 2016 second-round pick, Jaylon Smith, this may be the year the Cowboys reap those second round rewards.
The team plans to ease him into practices as Randy Gregory gets his football legs back.
Cowboys are pleased with Randy Gregory’s conditioning. But like any player who has been away from game this long _ and missed offseason program _ they are taking it slow. Club could ease him back into practice toward end of next week.
— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) July 27, 2018
Despite his past struggles, things are trending up for Gregory as he gets ready to take part in practices for the first time since the end of 2016. But what are realistic expectations for Randy Gregory as he gets ready to make his return?
Yes, we need to make sure the man is in a good place with his sobriety and with his mental health. I get that his story isn’t all about football.
The problem lies when you begin talking about the 53-man roster.
If you’re going to have him on the 53, and especially the game day 46, you need to get something out of Gregory. He can’t just be a body taking up space. When roster spots are so precious in today’s NFL, everyone has to have a role and everyone is expected to contribute.
Nothing is given in the NFL. Everything is earned.
As Tony Romo said, “the NFL is a meritocracy.”
As much as we want to pencil him in as the starter at right defensive end, Gregory will have to earn his snaps.
For Randy Gregory, personally speaking, just being back with the team is a huge accomplishment. Being able to at training camp with friends, teammates, and coaches who really want the best for you can be a huge boost to sobriety and long-term playing prospects.
If you read any of the letters of recommendation written by his teammates, then you know how they feel about him. When you have 52 guys in your corner rooting for you, plus coaches, trainers, and front office personnel, that has to be a huge boost to Gregory’s confidence.
As far as production goes, I believe a reasonable floor for Gregory is similar to what Taco did in 2017. Play about 40% of the defensive snaps, have around 3-5 sacks, double-digit pressures, and be a solid rotational piece. Anything more than that should be considered icing on the cake. With his talent and tools, he should be able to surpass that if the pass rush snaps become available to him.
It won’t be long until Gregory is taking part in team drills, but for Gregory and Cowboys Nation, the wait has been long enough.