Continuing this morning with our 6-pack Q&A's with the college blogs, we've got Shane Ray out of Missouri. Jack Peglow (@JackPeglow) from Rock M Nation was kind enough to answer the questions. Check 'em out below, and let us know in the comments what you think of his answers.
1. He didn't work out at the Combine, but did for his pro day. He put up okay numbers, nothing wow-ing though. Is his foot injury completely healed?
Toe injuries are tough to get over, but everything we've heard since the end of the season points to a full recovery. In my opinion, Shane's less-than-jaw-dropping times had more to do with the fact that he's put on roughly 15 pounds since he started training in January. The speed has always – and will always – be there, he chose to focus more on his strength, which most scouts agree is the bigger area of concern.
2. Ray isn't overly imposing size wise, however he's very athletic and explosive for his stature. Is this his best attribute?
Shane's explosiveness off the line is the reason he was able to tally 14.5 sacks this past season. I think I can count the number of times he attempted a power rush on a single hand. I can't blame him, though. If I could use my first step to turn an offensive tackle into a human revolving door as effectively as Ray, I wouldn't bother with bull-rushes either. But his speed isn't the only thing that makes him special; he also runs on one of the best motors in the game. He and Markus Golden (who isn't getting nearly as much love as I expected he would, but that's a rabbit-hole I won't be diving down today) consistently made plays 15-20 yards away from their position at the snap. Sometimes that meant flowing across the line of scrimmage to drop a running back heading away from them, and other times it meant being the tackler on record after a short pass completion. That's not something you see many DEs doing, and it's a testament to Ray's tenacity and relentlessness.
3. He was once considered the best edge rusher in the class, but with only one season as a full time starter, the foot injury, just okay pro day, etc. he appears to be slipping a bit. Do you think he's the best edge rusher in the class, or have guys like Dante Fowler Jr., Vic Beasley, Bud Dupree etc. caught up to him a little?
Even as a noted Mizzou fan, I never really bought into Shane Ray being the best pass-rusher that this draft class had to offer. He certainly exceeded my expectations in 2014, but I still believe that Beasley and Fowler have the edge on Shane when it comes to pure talent. Sure, neither of those players were able to match Ray's 2014 performance, but that doesn't change the fact that their ceiling is probably a few feet higher.
4. I've seen the terms "thin legs" and "narrow hips" used to describe his lower build. Do you think he can overcome this and add bulk, or is this a major concern?
He's already added some girth to those legs in the off-season, and I wouldn't think he'd have trouble packing on a few more pounds. The concern that I would have is how much the added weight is going to affect his speed. Shane's unique selling point is his ability to out-class blockers in that aspect of the game, it would be a shame to see the playing-field leveled because he was forced to bulk up. I don't see it being a major concern, the team that drafts him will be well aware of the situation.
5. Known as a pure pass rusher, what's his run defense like?
Run support is definitely not Shane's strong-suit, but he won't be a liability. That motor we talked about earlier really shines here. He is absolutely relentless in pursuit, and does a fantastic job of setting the edge on rushers looking to head outside. He's also quite disciplined; you won't see him get drawn out of position by counters or zone-reads. Shane's run defense isn't going to pay the rent, but it's not going to cost him his job either.
6. Is there something in the water in Columbia? Because the Mizzou pass rusher pipeline is building up...Aldon Smith, Michael Sam, Kony Ealy; all were very successful collegiate pass rushers. How does Ray stack up against those guys?
Shane Ray is the player that Michael Sam wishes he was. They're roughly the same size, and they both have the same undying engine under their respective hoods. The difference? Ray has the speed and explosiveness that Sam lacks. He's more similar to Ealy in that regard, both players posses a deadly first step with great athleticism to match. What Ray concedes to Kony in size, he makes up for in speed. I wouldn't put him quite on Aldon's level, but I'm not sure there are many football players on this great, green planet that can occupy that space.
7. Ultimately, where do you think he'll get drafted, and what sort of immediate impact do you expect?
I think Ray will go somewhere in the top-half of the First Round. If I'm being honest with myself, he's probably a late First Round talent, but I don't see a team with a need for a pass-rusher passing on Shane's upside. Especially if there's a run on players that can get after the quarterback. Given the right situation – one where Ray isn't forced to play in space and can focus on keeping his momentum moving in a straight line – I could easily see him developing into a dangerous presence on passing downs. Early on, it wouldn't surprise me if he's used as a rotational rusher. He'll likely gain more snaps as the season progresses and he develops into a more well-rounded sack hoarder.
I went over my 6-pack, and Jack went right along with the 7th answer, so thanks again to Jack for taking time to answer!
As a reminder, if there's anyone you are interested in hearing more about from the college blogs' perspective, let us know in the comments! I'll be adding some more Q&A's in the near future, so stay tuned!