Atlanta Falcons Should Still Consider Randy Gregory

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Nov 15, 2014; Madison, WI, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive end Randy Gregory (4) during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 59-24. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Case for Randy Gregory

Randy Gregory was considered to be a consensus top-five pick in the draft prior to the combine.

He has the ideal frame for the position (6’5, 235″) and has impressive tape. All the more impressive was the fact that Gregory only played two years at Nebraska after transferring from JUCO. He’s really only scratching the surface of his abilities, which are significant to say the least.

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I’ve written a ton on Gregory in the past, and this post isn’t really a draft spotlight.

Suffice to say, Gregory is a fantastic pass rusher with excellent hand usage and explosive hips and lateral agility. I have him as the #2 pass rusher in the draft behind Beasley, and for good reason.

He can come in and start right away and is perhaps the best run defender of any of the top edge rushers. His overall athleticism is second only to Bud Dupree (who is significantly more raw in his technique and run defense), and his motor is relentless.

Here is a great article and video from Battle Red Blog’s Brett Kollmann, who did an excellent job of breaking down Gregory’s strengths and weaknesses. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth a watch, as it explains why Gregory sometimes appears to be “slow off the snap”. Spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with his athleticism or first step.

Then the combine happened, and analysts starting questioning Gregory’s talents because of his weight and the revelation (by Gregory himself, but more on that later) that he failed the combine drug test for cannabis.

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On his weight, Gregory stated that he had been sick in the weeks before the combine. Even then, it’s still a minor issue.

At his pro day, Gregory had already gained another 3 pounds, and his playing weight while at Nebraska was rumored to be in the 240-range. Gregory’s frame is also capable of handling another 10-20 pounds easily, though around 250 might be the sweet spot to keep his athleticism at a high level.

The failed drug test is more concerning. Most scouts consider the combine drug test more of an “idiot test”, as prospects are informed that they will be tested months in advance. It means that Gregory either: a) has a problem with cannabis and needs help, or b) didn’t respect the test/thought he could beat it/forgot about it.

Neither are particularly good options, but is a failed drug test for cannabis enough to take Gregory off the draft board for the Falcons?

The answer is no, for several reasons.

Next: Why Not?