AnalysisFootball changed everything for Ray. He used the sport to stay out of trouble as a kid and now embarks in a career as a professional. Credit his high school coach, Tim Grunhard. Now Ray’s a coveted rush end or outside linebacker, depending on scheme. He’s got speed and strength off the edge to be an elite pass rusher. Ray can also make plays down the line showing his outstanding agility. At times he’s explosive, showing a great get off and closing speed for a big man. Ray only started 13 games at Missouri yet still posted 19 career sacks, 29 pressures and 36 tackles for a loss.
Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation
Chicago, IL—The Denver Broncos traded their No. 28 pick, their 2015 and 2016 fifth round picks and offensive guard/center Manuel Ramirez to Detroit for the No. 23 pick to select Missouri defensive end/outside linebacker Shane Ray. Ray recently made news for getting arrested for marijuana possession less than a week before the biggest day in his football career.
Ray also has a right toe injury, suffered in the Citrus Bowl, that may require surgery. As a prospect, Ray was expected to go in the top-15, despite the concerns about his foot, until his unfortunate arrest. As a prospect, Ray does possess an elite combination of speed off the snap and explosion that NFL teams covet.
For the Broncos, he will be a great fit as a stand-up outside linebacker in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense. He will be provided the opportunity to hone his craft behind two of the best rush linebackers in the game—Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.
If the Broncos hit on Ray, he also gives the Broncos salary cap flexibility following this season on Ware’s contract. Ware currently has two years left on his deal and accounts for roughly $10M against the salary cap.
The Broncos obviously saw the opportunity to draft a top-15 talent at No. 23, notwithstanding his off-the-field issues and foot concerns. Obviously, they’re not too worried about the foot and even if they are and it requires surgery, being No. 3 on the OLB depth chart buys them time to get him healthy.
The Ray pick marks the fifth defender, out five drafts, that General Manager John Elway went defense. The Broncos must be uber-confident in Sylvester Williams at nose guard, because they passed up on Texas' Malcolm Brown, whom many had as the top prospect left on the board at No. 23.
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