Breakdown: Cowboys Select Randy Gregory

Everything you need to know about the Dallas Cowboys’ second-round selection of defensive end Randy Gregory out of Nebraska from Scout's college and pro football experts.

Awaiting Image
Randy Gregory
Nebraska / 6'5 / 235 lbs
  • DE
  • [2] #28


Like Fowler, Gregory is a very athletic outside linebacker prospect. But he tested positive for marijuana and his stock is sliding. How far? It’s too hard to say at this point and we will all find out on April 30th. All things being equal Gregory has tremendous upside once he fills out his long frame and gains bulk and strength. He projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme or rush end. Gregory has good quickness of the ball and shows speed and surprising strength on the edge. In 24 games in Lincoln he scored 17.5 sacks and 29 tackles for a loss.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

Instant Analysis from Scout's Jamie Newberg:

Dallas is rolling the dice here on one of the draft's top defensive prospects in Randy Gregory. This former Nebraska star is a very athletic outside linebacker prospect. But he tested positive for marijuana and his stock fell hard to the 60th selection. All things being equal Gregory has tremendous upside once he fills out his long frame and gains bulk and strength. Gregory has good quickness of the ball and shows speed and surprising strength on the edge. In 24 games in Lincoln he scored 17.5 sacks and 29 tackles for a loss. Two questions regarding Gregory and the Cowboys - does his game transition well to a 4-3 scheme and how much off the field issues does he have?

Report from NFL Scouting Services' Dave-Te' Thomas:

Teams will be well-served to monitor the knee problems that cost Randy Gregory two full games and lots of action in two others this season. They also need to be a bit concerned about a defensive end who is what is politely termed as being a “picky eater” who has failed to develop the bulk that will obviously be needed, if he is to remain as a level-one defender.

Those teams that might consider him to be a better option as a linebacker in a 3-4 base defense can see that he has the straight-line speed and hands to compete for the ball and cover on assignments in front of him, but he claimed hamstring issues for not running certain agility tests at the NFL Scouting Combine and during Nebraska’s Pro Day thay weigh heavy in evaluating a player’s lateral mobility and range (shuttle and three-cone drills).

Despite that missed playing time, he finished the season with 50 tackles, including a team-high seven sacks, ten stops-for-loss and 16 quarterback hurries. The Big Ten Conference leader in sacks in 2013, the Arizona Western transfer has had injury problems in the past, as a leg fracture sidelined him for the 2012 campaign. He then joined the Nebraska program in 2013, adding 9.5 sacks and 16 stops-for-loss among his 65 tackles that year.

Some scouts are viewing Gregory as a potential 3-4 weak-side linebacker, but I see him more as a rush end type in that alignment, as he has a very good understanding for leverage and is very elusive working off the edge. He has strong and active hands and demonstrates outstanding outside arm-free strength that makes it very hard for bigger blockers to knock him back off the ball. He can get across face quickly and has the lower body strength and flexibility to sink his hips, drop his weight and gain leverage.

Gregory has the arm power and body control to split double teams, but it is also because of his quickness that he can beat most blocks. Even when he is not quick to shed, he can execute the cross-face move quickly. He displays good initial quickness to create penetration and disruption in the backfield. He also shows very good range and closes in a hurry when chasing in pursuit. He is also the type that plays with a chip on his shoulder and despite obviously giving up considerable bulk, he’s not afraid to mix it up with the bigger offensive tackles (see battle with Rob Havenstein in the Wisconsin clash).

As a pass rusher, he can beat you with either his speed or power, possessing very good body control and excellent hip snap. Among his 9.5 sacks this season, eight came inside the red zone, including two on goal-line snaps. There are times he will play too tall and must do a better job of using his hands to protect his lower body from cut and chop blocks, as his above average strength is in his upper frame.

Gregory does struggle to anchor vs. the bigger offensive tackles, but he has good escape speed and an array of moves that let him get up the field and disrupt in the backfield. He shows adequate discipline with contain and when given the green light to attack the passer, he is able to turn the corner or quickly go outside-in to get a more direct path to the quarterback.

His upper body strength is highlighted when he uses it to get movement in his bull rush, as he’s become quite savvy in knowing when to release with his hands in order to harass a scrambling passer. There are times when he will move inside to a three-technique spot on some plays to take advantage of his quickness and ability to disrupt passing lanes (two interceptions and four pass deflections for Nebraska). With his balance and low pad level, he does a nice job when he jumps over and uses his hands to beat cut blocks.

As a run stuffer, he limited ball carriers to 31 yards on 48 plays directed at him, making ten stops-for-loss on those running plays, along with stopping five runners for no gain. With his long arms and legs, he is more effective on the move, but his first-step quickness allows him to slip past bigger blockers when trying to give chase or neutralize the cut-back lanes. He's a very good athlete for his frame, though, demonstrating the quick feet and excellent change-of-direction skills on double moves, delayed twists.

Gregory is a potentially strong edge run defender as 4-3 end or 3-4 linebacker. He is very effective at remaining balanced out of his stance, and he knows how to extend his arms to keep distance. He is able to shed to get to the ball on either side of the block and shows good backfield awareness. He’s the type that is willing to lower his shoulder and stand his ground vs. pulling guards and moving tight ends.

His problems occur when he tries to get down the line, but is quickly engaged by interior blockers, who can stall him and push him back when his chest is too exposed when first engaging the linemen on inside runs. If he uses his spin move, he has the ability to beat reach blocks to get into the backfield, though.

The thing I like is the way he can squeeze through the tiniest of creases to get into the backfield. He plays with tough aggression and is a disruptive force that needs to be accounted for on every play. He displays excellent knee bend, hip flip and balance to stay up on his feet. He can adjust on the run and is best when he plays a variety of positions (stunts) off the edge.

His speed is his best pass rush asset, but Gregory also has solid hand placement to slip out and avoid blocks on the move. He comes off the edge with a sudden burst and when asked to shoot the gaps, blockers are often surprised by his explosion through the holes. The thing you see on film since his he joined the Husker program is that he combines his suddenness with efficient counter moves to pressure the pocket. He has also developed swim and rip moves working inside, but is better at getting to the quarterback when playing off the edge.

Randy Gregory NFL Scouting Combine measurables

6-5/235 (4.64 forty)
34-inch arm length
10-inch hands
36.5-inch vertical jump
125-inch broad jump

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.


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