Prospect: DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska
Height/Weight: 6'6", 240lbs
Projected Round: 1st, Top 5
At 6'6", Gregory is exactly what you want for a premiere edge rusher. His frame has room for extra weight to help him against the bigger and faster professional lineman, and his speed and power allows him to be dominant in any scheme.
When you are a player of Randy's caliber, offensive coordinators will do whatever they can to get you out of their hair; even if it takes three lineman to do so. When you garner this type of attention, your presence alone can change the outcome of a game. Gregory frees up his teammates to one-on-one battles. If this dimension were added to Atlanta's defense, you have to think Ra'Shede Hageman, Corey Peters, or a free agent edge rusher could win theirs'.
After covering Ray and Beasley, the top-tier pass rushers were starting to slightly let me down in terms of run defending. This isn't an issue with Gregory. Randy does an excellent job of setting the edge and containing rushers; allowing teammates to shore up the play. The main problem with defensive ends in the modern era is that they frequently find trouble stopping the run. We saw this with Kroy Biermann and Osi Umenyiora throughout the 2013 and 2014 seasons. In Gregory, you have a well-rounded prospect who is the complete package.
Even though he has the highest ceiling, he is still raw as a prospect. Players like Ray and Beasley look to have their craft much more refined, but Gregory overall plays a more complete game.
A lot of the time it looks as if Gregory gets a late start to the snap. He isn't exactly slow, but his response is just a little behind the other defenders. Luckily, Randy gets much better burst while standing up. This is good for the Falcons if they plan on using him in a 3-4 scheme. With proper coaching this is something that can certainly be cleared up.
SCHEME FIT AND FINAL THOUGHTS
As I said above, Gregory looks to be much more effective in a 3-4, but his frame makes it to where he could fit perfectly fine in either scheme. Unfortunately, when you have the skill-set of Randy Gregory, it usually puts you out of reach for most of the teams in the NFL. With Atlanta sitting at No.8, it's extremely likely that he will not be available by the time we send in our card, but we can dream.
Which prospect would you like to see next?