Dec 27, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive end Randy Gregory (4) looks on before the game against the USC Trojans in the 2014 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive end Randy Gregory has long been speculated to be a top 10 selection in this year’s draft. But after failing a drug test at the combine (for marijuana), Gregory’s draft stock has taken a hit. In light of this, some draft pundits are predicting that Gregory could fall as far as pick 21 where the Bengals find themselves “on the clock.” The guys at Walter Football do a good job of summing up why Gregory could land in the Bengals’ paws at 21.
"“Boom. Randy Gregory drops to No. 21, and it’s not just because of the positive marijuana test. There are other concerns with Gregory that could potentially cause him to slip out of the first round. I’d have to imagine, however, that the Bengals would consider him at this juncture. Marvin Lewis is all about giving players second chances, and Gregory makes sense in terms of a needs perspective.”"
I understand the intrigue of drafting a prospect with as much potential as Randy Gregory. It’s not often that a top 10 player (top five at one point) falls into the hands of a team selecting at 21. But grabbing a huge bargain purely on that basis isn’t necessarily a “win” just because it’s a great buy. So, even at such a fantastic price, is Gregory worth the Bengals’ investment?
There’s no doubt that Randy Gregory offers some great potential as a pass rusher, yet it seems evident based on his size alone that he fits more as a 3-4 outside linebacker than as a 4-3 defensive end. At 6’5″, 235 pounds, he is incredibly slender compared to the Bengals’ ends; Gregory would have to gain 40 pounds before he can reach a similar weight to the Bengals’ ends.
Beyond his size, on tape, Randy Gregory doesn’t look the part of a sure thing. He was handled by Donovan Smith (in 2013), and didn’t exactly dominate against Miami and Wisconsin this past season. These types of performances are likely what leads Lance Zierlein to label him as a “high-ceiling, low floor prospect.”
The Bengals do enjoy versatility, and Randy Gregory does offer some of that. While at Nebraska they moved him all around the defensive front when rushing the passer. This will be appealing to the Bengals who are in dire need of pass rush help. But after investing in Michael Johnson this year, and Margus Hunt and Will Clarke over the past two drafts, is grabbing another defensive end necessary? And whom would the Bengals cut to make room for Gregory? Wallace Gilberry? Certainly not Carlos Dunlap.
Cincinnati could get creative and try Gregory at strong side linebacker. Given his size and athletic ability, it would likely be his best fit in the Bengals’ defense. His speed, flexibility, and “explosive hips” (per Zierlein) suggests that Gregory could be successful in such a role, though his collegiate experience didn’t ask him to play in coverage often. Personally, and my best guess is that NFL front offices would agree, I want a player who fits my defense more naturally rather than try to force a player into a new role, especially a first round investment.
After analyzing Randy Gregory and evaluating who he’d fit the Bengals, I reiterate, I understand the appeal. But risk isn’t always worth it, and Gregory feels like more of a risk than is necessary in this year’s draft. Not only that, but the net gain of adding him and cutting another defensive end, such as Gilberry, doesn’t equate to a big enough “gain” in my opinion. Rather, I’d like to see Cincinnati grab a prospect who better fits the system or the immediate needs of a team. This while, if the team wants to invest in a player such as Gregory, I’d rather see them draft, if available, Alvin Dupree who has had more experience dropping into coverage.
Give us your thoughts below. We’re interested to hear your opinion on the subject.
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