The Atlanta Falcons are desperate for pass rush help, and are widely expected to draft accordingly with their top selection. Popular opinion suggested they should have their shot at Randy Gregory, Shane Ray, and Bud Dupree at 8 overall.
If the following rumor from NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein is to be believed, the Falcons will have one less option.
@MikeOdomSports May need foot surgery. Not saying he "needs" it. That is for each team's doc to decide.— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) April 23, 2015
The injury may explain why Ray had underwhelming times in the 40 and agility drills, but the time table likely takes him out of Atlanta's plans. If he does indeed need the surgery, the consensus is he will need five months of rehab until he can return to play. He will miss out on all of training camp and preseason, necessities for a rookie player that needs to have an early impact.
After years of consistently ignoring the defensive end position, the Falcons do not have the luxury to use their top draft pick on a player who will likely play limited snaps their rookie season. Personally, if the team was to take a pass rusher that will not have an early impact, Dupree seems like the better selection. He is raw, but an athletic freak that can be developed into one of the best in the game.
This news may also put more pressure on the team to loosen up their "Falcon filter" just enough to let Gregory through. Gregory may be the best pass rusher in the entire draft, but his positive drug test at the combine would normally remove him from consideration for the Falcons. However, if he is available, he looks to be the very best fit for the team.
If Ray is out of discussion for the 8th overall pick, who do you take? Or should the team trade up or down to target a different player entirely?
Update: About a dozen reporters have said that a foot specialist does not need surgery, but only rest.
#Mizzou DE Shane Ray saw a foot specialist today. Source said doc’s recommendation was not surgery. Big news for potential 1st rounder.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2015
It may mean he will continue to come along slowly, but I would imagine would be ready to go full speed by preseason.
Next update: Sounds like the truth was somewhere in the middle. The specialist suggests rest, while a number of team doctors believe Ray needs surgery. The Falcons may need to be very sold on Ray for him to still be under consideration at the 8th pick.
All teams have known about Ray's issue. Some team medcial staffs do believe surgery may be necessary, as @LanceZierlein said. Others say no— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 23, 2015