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Should the San Diego Chargers draft Randy Gregory if He Falls to Them?

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Nebraska edge rusher Randy Gregory failed a drug test. Does that mean the Chargers should shy away from him?

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With the recent news that he failed a drug test, Nebraska's third team all-american edge rusher Randy Gregory has been quite the topic of social media these last 12 hours. It's as simplistic as it gets to compare him to Josh Gordon. That's not fair. It's also unfair to compare him to Justin Houston. I like to think we've grown as a society in 4 years and that the NFL has learned from their mistakes. So in short, Gregory isn't an addict, and he's not falling 2 full rounds because of a failed drug test. Now, falling in the 1st round? That's a strong possibility.

I don't know what character concerns Gregory has or pretend to. This does sound like he'll be on this ice with no margin for error. This could easily push Gregory from picks 5-10 to 10-20.

Let's talk about what's important, what Gregory brings to a team on the field.

Keeping himself clean

Gregory came in at 6'5, 243 pounds at his pro day. Gregory does a great job, maybe the best in the draft, of using his hands to keep himself clean of contact against offensive lineman. His hands are active, he's always hand fighting, and they're quick. Gregory has advanced hand technique that he uses to keep himself clean. This trait puts Gregory in a position to succeed early on as a pass rusher.

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It comes back to making first contact. When Gregory does this, he usually wins. When he doesn't, well.

Disengaging

Inconsistent. That's how I would describe Gregory when it comes to disengaging. He has the strength and effort to get off blocks. However, you'll see enough occurences where Gregory gives up ground or will lose gap integrity where it might cause some concern. On one hand Gregory has made enough plays down the line of scrimmage to convince you he can get off blocks. On the other hand, in tight quarters or short yardage situations Gregory won't disengage, lose just enough ground, and the team will run for a 1st down.

Bad Randy

When rushing the passer, you might confuse Gregory as a receiver trying to beat press coverage.

Wait, what?

There are so many wasted movements in Gregory's fist few initial steps. These aren't just your typical 1 to 2 stutter steps. Here's an example where Gregory is just hopping back and forth.

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Obviously you would like for Gregory to attack the left tackle. Too often he dances with them and it's a waste of a play. Here's another example of Gregory where if he just cuts out the slight hesitation and goes full force into the tackle it's probably a QB hit. Instead the quarterback is able to get the throw off.

Gregory was asked to read the play more than your typical edge rusher. Probably more than 5 times the amount than the usual edge rusher. He would mirror the offensive tackles movements as a function of the defense in order to maintain his responsibility. What this means is Gregory couldn't time the snap or cadence of the quarterback. Therefore he could not pin his ears back and explode off the ball. That and him lining unusally far off of the ball took away one of his biggest strengths, his quickness. I think Gregory has a great first step. I can't give him full credit for it if Gregory is going to continue to dance at the line of scrimmage. He also missed 5 tackles in the 5 games that I watched.

Good Randy

Look at the difference of what happens when you attack the lineman. Gregory still stutters but he's pressing the lineman and shows off his quickness and flexibility. This is why he can be a 10 sack guy at the next level.

That ability to dip right there shows in Gregory's 3 cone drill. The purpose of the 3 cone shows whether a player has the speed, quickness, flexibility, and change of direction all in one drill. Gregory's 6.79 time was good for 3rd best since 2006.

He has an array of pass rush moves. You'll see the 1 arm bull rush. The dip/rip, a club to the outside that keeps himself clean. Gregory can get under lineman and walk them back with his underrated strength, too. Gregory's signature move is countering to the inside. Tackles just do not have an answer for him. They know that he can win with speed to the edge, and that sets up this.

Over half of Gregory's "wins" came off that inside arm over. You can see just how quick and efficient it is. Because Gregory was asked to read the offensive tackle two things stood out, his high effort and his football IQ. Gregory made so many effort plays. The type of effort when you pair it with his athleticism that you can't help but think he'll be a star player. He made 3 incredible plays in the 4th quarter against Michigian State when the team was down big where most guys would be going through the efforts at that moment. As far as his IQ, you saw little things as a run defender like squeezing and taking on pullers so the linebackers behind him would have a free run at the back. Little examples like that happen every game with Gregory.

What is Gregory's value?

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable 4.0

Trait Weight Grade
Hand Usage 4 3.8
Run Defense 3 2.7
Speed Rush 3 2.9
Power Rush 3 2.4
Strength 2 1.7
Athleticism 2 2
First Step 2 1.8
Tackling 2 1.4
Versatility 2 1.9
Motor 2 1.8

Gregory grades out to an 8.06 for me. That makes him the 12th best player in the draft. There is a lot to like. He's an ultra athletic pass rusher with a variety of moves and players with a great motor. There's also some things that give you pause. What if the questions people have about him aren't just scheme related to what Gregory was asked to do? Who says he's going to all the sudden stop missing tackles? It's hard to pass up on pass rushers as naturally gifted as Gregory, especially considering just how smart of a football player he is. The concerns are there, though.

How He Fits as a Charger

There's the durability issue that Charger fans are all too familiar with. Gregory missed 2 games this year due to left leg/knee injuries as well as all of his 2012 season due to a broken leg. I think his understanding of how to play the run makes him the best option to replace Jaret Johnson. Though you would worry about the missed tackling. As a pass rusher, he's the best 1 of the team the day he's drafted. Nebraska let him rush coming from inside linebacker and also let him stunt towards the inside. He can be a very versatile weapon and already has a variety of moves. The Chargers scheduled a meeting with Gregory as soon as they found out about his "incident." The talent is obvious with Gregory.