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NFL Draft: Kansas City Chiefs select linebacker Willie Gay Jr.

With their pick in the second round of the NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Willie Gay Jr., linebacker out of Mississippi State.

With the 63rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Willie Gay Jr., linebacker out of Mississippi State. As the selection for the Chiefs, Gay brings a potential first-round talent to the Chiefs at second-round value.

Arrowhead Report's Jordan Foote scouted Gay before the draft:

Willie Gay was one of the darlings of the combine, as his 4.46-second 40-yard dash and 39.5-inch vertical jump helped boost his draft stock tremendously. Mock drafts place him anywhere ranging from the end of the second round to the beginning of the fifth. His character is a question mark, and he’s a raw prospect, but the ceiling is sky-high. Selecting Gay would be a forward-thinking move by the Chiefs, with their eyes set on unleashing him in a year or two.

Foote also broke down the pick and the value of Gay at 63 overall.

Wilie Gay Jr.'s draft stock has been all over the place due to his off-the-field concerns. If any coach can get him to stay on the straight and narrow, it's Andy Reid. His combine performance was excellent, boosting his case as a late second-round pick. Gay is relatively raw from a processing standpoint, but the potential is there for him to be a high-impact linebacker. He plays with a high motor and is an intense competitor, which makes him an instant fit in Steve Spagnuolo's defense. We will have to wait for him to mature before we find out just how good this pick was, though.

Gay seems like a plausible day-one starter as the Chiefs' weakside linebacker, sharing the field with Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson in the Chiefs' base defense. While safety Daniel Sorensen has played a safety-linebacker role in sub-packages in recent years, Gay gives the Chiefs a super-athletic base weakside linebacker who can stay on the field in obvious passing situations. 

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Here's the quick backstory by Arrowhead Report's Tucker Franklin:

Willie Gay Jr., a Starkville, Mississippi, native stayed home for college and played at Mississippi State. Gay was a top-50 overall recruit who led Starkville High School to a state title before committing to his hometown school. Gay had a promising sophomore season where he posted 48 stops, 5.5 for loss, five sacks and two interceptions in 13 games with six starts. He played in five games as a reserve during his junior year, but was held out of eight contests due to NCAA violations pertaining to an academic tutor. Reportedly, Gay and starting quarterback Garrett Shrader got into an altercation late in the year. Gay had the second-fasted 40-yard dash time from a linebacker.

Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu offered some perspective on the issues from Gay's college years.

Bill Huber of PackerCentral wrote about Gay and his off-field issues as well.

No. 9: Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State (6-1 1/8, 243; 4.46 40): If anyone needed a big Scouting Combine, it was Gay. He was caught in an academic scandal as a junior, which limited him to 28 tackles in five games. Before the Music City Bowl to cap the season and his collegiate career, he got into a fight with the starting quarterback and inflicted a facial fracture. Plus, he was ejected from two games in his career. Well, Gay delivered that big Combine. Among the linebackers at the Combine, he ranked first in the broad jump, second in the 40 and vertical jump and fifth on the bench press. “I call him the ‘Eraser,’” MSU linebacker Erroll Thompson told “If someone isn't fitting right up front, he's so fast and so twitchy and just a freak of nature; he just erases the mistakes.”

In a conference call with reporters after the selection, head coach Andy Reid said that Gay "was the linebacker we wanted."