The Broncos traded up to grab Shane Ray, whose draft-night slide following a recent citation for a traffic violation and marijuana possession ends at the perfect time.
The Broncos moved up to the 23rd overall pick in the 2015 draft, moving up to Detroit's spot to take Missouri defensive end Shane Ray. In return, the Lions get offensive lineman Manny Ramirez, a fifth-rounder this year and a fifth-rounder in 2016. Ray was regarded by many as one of the best—if not the best—pure pass rushers in this class, but his recent citation for a traffic violation and marijuana possession was surely going to drop his draft stock.
Ray grades out as a top-15 pick on tape, but this fall could be good for him. The Broncos are switching to an aggressive one-gap 3-4 base defense under Wade Phillips, and they'll need a long-term pass-rushing partner for Von Miller. Ray can slip in for DeMarcus Ware over time, as Ware will be 33 years old in August. Ray led the SEC with 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss in 2014, and he has a ridiculous first step. He'll be a perfect fit in the Phillips defense -- if he can keep his act together.
Strengths: Freakish athlete who has unofficially been clocked at under 4.5 in the 40-yard dash at 6'3" and 245 pounds. Moves the pocket quickly off the snap, with a dynamic first step and excellent burst around the edge. Will occasionally get past a tackle before the tackle can set his feet. When asked to read at the line, maintains a disruptive presence, moving to the ballcarrier and working to deflect passes. Resets well from a pass-rushing position to redirect and run downfield with top-level closing speed. Works to cross the face of the tackle and could be a real weapon on stunts and inside counters. Has the lateral quickness to switch to an inside gap in a big hurry. Gets his sacks too often on pure speed, but has that skill in abundance. Can generate pressure from the tackle position on passing downs. Good in coverage with potential to grow in this area. Good run-tackler who has to use recovery speed too often to mask awareness issues.—DF
Weaknesses: Ray uses a rip and swim move occasionally, but more consistency with his hands would be a real benefit—he's pretty unstoppable when he coordinates his speed with technique. Gets too high in his stance and loses leverage pretty quickly, and that's when blockers who shouldn't be able to move him out of the play can do just that. Needs to develop his speed at the turn, the "dip-and-rip" that makes the best pass-rushers so lethal to the tackle's outside shoulder. Foot injury prevented him from doing drills at the scouting combine, though he did some at his pro day, including linebacker drills, which may indicate where NFL teams could be considering him.
Player Comparison: Bruce Irvin
GALLERY: SCENES FROM THE NFL DRAFT