Patriots Draft Spotlight: Randy Gregory

New England has been looking to upgrade their pass rush for years now, and they may be willing to take a shot at an edge rusher in the draft. Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory is one of the top edge rushers in the draft, but after a failed drug test in January, would the Patriots still be interested? Let's take a look at what Gregory would bring to New England.

New England started free agency by losing their top two cornerbacks and adding a top young pass rusher, so it's pretty clear the Patriots are going to come after the quarterback more in '15 to make up for their changes in the secondary. Even with the pickup of Jabaal Sheard, it still makes sense to draft a pass rusher if one is available when the Patriots are on the board. Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory is considered one of the top pass rushers available, and after failing a drug test for marijuana, may be available at the end of the first round.

Gregory attended Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Indiana, where he starred in football and basketball. Gregory was recognized as one of the top athletes in the state. In his junior year, Gregory posted 68 solo tackles, 24 assisted tackles, five tackles for loss, one pass defended, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and fourteen sacks. His senior year was also excellent, although his sack numbers did drop. In 11 games, Gregory totaled 78 solo tackles, 32 assisted tackles, 10 tackles for loss, one pass defended, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and 6.5 sacks. He didn't make a lot of plays on offense, but his four career catches equaled out to 102 yards and three touchdowns. Needless to say he made plays every time he was on the field.

Gregory had offers from D-1 basketball and football programs, but he ended up going juco, attending Arizona Western College. As a freshman, Gregory continued to impress, putting up 82 tackles and nine sacks, but unfortunately he missed his sophomore year due to a broken leg. The injury didn't deter D-1 schools from going after Gregory and he initially committed to Purdue, but he was academically ineligible and he decided to move on to Nebraska.

Gregory started 2013 where he left off in 2011; 40 solo tackles, 26 assisted tackles, 17 tackles for loss, one interception, one interception returned for a touchdown, one forced fumble, one pass broken up, 15 quarterback hurries, and 10.5 sacks. Gregory exploded onto the scene and was projected as a top five prospect going into his senior season. His senior year wasn't as good, but it was still very strong. He finished with 23 solo tackles, 31 assisted tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, three passes defended, and seven sacks. Offensive coordinators were trying to adjust and throwing more double teams at Gregory, but he still dominated and proved that he was ready for the NFL.

Gregory has been compared to former Lions defensive end Jason Taylor due to their similar frames and excellent skills. Gregory is great with his hands and will give offensive tackles problems when they try to block him. He does need to put some weight on, maybe 20 to 25 pounds because if he doesn't, he's not going to defend the run in the NFL. Gregory also needs to develop more pass rushing moves if he wants to take his game to the next level in the pros. He is projected mainly as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but if he does put some weight on, he could be effective in the 4-3 as an end.

The Patriots definitely have interest in Gregory, they'd be crazy not to, but would they draft a kid who failed a drug test when he knew that it was coming? It shows a lack of self discipline, and that is something Belichick won't like. Gregory does have the talent to seamlessly fit into the Patriots defense though, so if he is to fall into the 20's, the Patriots would have to seriously consider him. His situation compared to what they dealt with in the sociopath Aaron Hernandez are much different, so they shouldn't let that deter them if they like what their scouts are saying. He'll definitely be off the board before 32, but if he slips, he's a guy to keep a close eye on. Remember, the Patriots have extra compensatory picks so trading up with their original picks is an option.

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