Randy Gregory's long, mostly self-induced wait in the 2015 draft green room finally ended at No. 60, when the Dallas Cowboys decided to take a shot on him. Gregory failed multiple drug tests while at Nebraska and another at this year's combine, plus just Friday night both the NFL Network and ESPN reported that he had shown up late for or missed multiple meetings with teams ahead of the draft.
If the Cowboys can keep him focused on and off the field, though, this pick could be the steal of the year. Gregory was No. 3 on our SI64 2015 prospect rankings and his talent as a pass-rusher is undeniable. He plays on the light side, maxing out at 235 for the combine, but still holds his own in man-on-man situations. Nebraska got creative with how it used him, shifting him to multiple spots, both along the line and at linebacker. There's a world of potential here, if Gregory can stay out of trouble.
Strengths: An athletic freak with a 34-inch wingspan and 4.6 40 time. Perceived upside has scouts drooling. Flies after the football, be it while rushing the passer or chasing down a running back. Counters well at the line of scrimmage, using his hands to shake free of blockers. Size may be a detriment elsewhere but it also allows him to squeeze through gaps. Rarely taken out of a play. Nebraska showcased his versatility throughout his two seasons there, using him out of two- and three-point stances off the edge and occasionally shifting him to a stand-up inside linebacker position. Closed rapidly downhill from that ILB alignment. Turns quickly so he can get outside against stretch plays. Will use his power when he's able to get his hands free. Four pass break-ups, two interceptions, two forced fumbles at Nebraska—he’s a playmaker on defense.
Weaknesses: Is he big enough to succeed in the NFL? Questions will follow Gregory until he proves otherwise and it may scare off base 4-3 teams. At 235 pounds was the lightest member of the combine's DE group; Missouri's Shane Ray (245) was closest to him. Did show some inability to set an edge vs. the run when matched up against athletic OTs. Blitzing from a linebacker spot added a unique element to Gregory's game at Nebraska, but any plans to use him in coverage are purely speculative at this point. Injury history will not help sway any scouts or GMs who are worried about his size. Can be slow off the snap and will not have as much time to recover from those hesitant moments in the NFL.
Player Comparison: Clay Matthews