Dan Gay IV (6-foot-4, 308 pounds) is an aggressive and versatile lineman. He spent his first two years at Baylor as a defensive tackle before making the move to the offensive line. Since then, he's played every position on the line except for center.
Steve Brischke of BearsIllustrated.com believes the move to the offensive line was the best thing for Gay. Brischke also believes Gay has plenty of room for improvement because of his relative newness to the position.
"I think offensive line turned out to be a much better fit for Dan, who is clearly a good athlete and football player," Brischke said. "If he had made the switch earlier in his college career, he would have been more pro-ready by the time he came out."
Gay earned All-Big 12 honors at Baylor and started the final 34 games of his career. Despite that experience, BearsIllustrated.com's Chris Bullajian believes Gay will struggle because the Chargers run a different offensive scheme.
OT Dan Gay IV
"I think the biggest thing Gay might struggle with in the NFL is foot speed and getting in position off the snap," Bullajian said. "His career at Baylor was mainly pass blocking out of the shotgun formation. In San Diego, it is an entirely different type of offense."
The Bears racked up 2,349 rushing yards in 2008, an impressive increase from 2007, where they recorded just 934. They also added 29 rushing touchdowns in 2008, up from only five the year prior.
Brischke insists Gay played a prominent role in the sizable uptick.
"I think Dan had a pretty large role in the success in our rushing increase. I would certainly not say Dan was the biggest reason for the increase in rushing yardage, but I don't think it would have been near that high without Dan in there."
"I think Dan Gay and Jason Smith may have been the best offensive tackle tandem in college last year," Bullajian said.
Like many other Chargers players (Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, etc.), Gay is an accomplished basketball player. He played basketball for three years in high school before he began playing football as a senior.
His time on the basketball court helped develop his athleticism. And his limited time on the gridiron gives him a tantalizingly high ceiling.
"He was still on a huge learning curve while at Baylor. He started out on the defensive line, but quickly was converted to offense because of his skill-set," Bullajian said.
Despite having the size and athleticism to play at the pro level, Gay was not drafted and signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent.
Brischke believes Gay's ongoing development is the reason he went undrafted, but feels he has what it takes to be successful in the NFL.
"I do not think he was underrated," Brischke said. "I think he's a guy that clearly had success and showed a certain aptitude for playing the O-line in his short stint at the position on the college level.
"Having said that, I think he can definitely be successful in the league if he can get stronger and more experience on the O-line. He is definitely worthy of a team paying him to stick around and grow."
Bullajian also believes the depth of this year's crop of offensive tackles played a role in Gay going undrafted. He agrees that Gay has the aptitude to be successful.
"Dan Gay's upside is there, and I think the most important thing to remember is that he has only been playing offensive tackle for a couple of years," he said.