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NFL Draft Profile: Eric Gray, Running Back, Oklahoma Sooners

NFL Draft profile scouting report for Oklahoma RB Eric Gray

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201

#0
Pos: RB
Ht: 5091
Wt: 206
DOB: 11/4/1999
Hometown: Memphis, TN
High School: Lausanne Collegiate School
Eligibility: 2023

Eric Gray
Oklahoma Sooners


One-Liner:

Scheme versatile, three-down RB with stellar vision, manipulation and AA to make efficient cuts to knife through defenses but his narrow frame, subpar contact balance and long speed will limit his ceiling.

Evaluation:

Eric Gray was an electrifying back at Tennessee and has the potential to prove himself as an extremely valuable all-around offensive weapon at Oklahoma. Gray possesses scheme diversity on his resume, displaying the patience and cutback prowess needed for Zone schemes and the quick decision making, plus ability to get skinny between the tackles for Gap/Power schemes. Gray excels with the mental aspect of the RB position, displaying the vision+processing to make split-second decisions and choose the correct hole. If a lane isn’t there, however, Gray knows exactly how to press the line and manipulate LBs in the wrong direction and create his own pathway, then show off his AA to burst into open space. Gray has the ideal short-area acceleration to excel in the 5-15 yard areas of the field which combined with his cat-like agility allows him to easily defeat pursuit angles by LBs and DBs. Gray’s cuts to avoid defenders are like a WR working a release at the line, utilizing head fakes, jab steps and attacking defenders’ leverage to create space. He has a special feel for setting up his blockers in space, whether it is a draw or a screen, Gray understands leverage so well and changes his pace and direction with ease to maximize yardage. He’s valuable in the passing game too, a hands catcher at heart and with the ball in his hands his AA shines through with YAC. Gray shows flashes of good effort and technique as a blocker - creating displacement at the POA of chip blocks and also good processing of blitzers up the middle with the low pad level to engage and redirect away from the QB. While Gray provides a balanced skill set, he has some limitations for his overall ceiling. Physically, Gray has a narrow frame that is in need of added bulk which may limit him to a 3rd down role early in his career. As a result of his stature, Gray has subpar contact balance - too often he falls after first contact and arm tackles are quite effective. This limits his ability to power through tacklers and add yards after contact - it’s not for a lack of effort/intensity - which may simply never be a big aspect of his game. Gray also lacks great top-end speed, he’s not going to break away for many 30+ yard touchdowns and that could turn some teams off. Scheme versatile RB who displays the vision and manipulation necessary to provide a high floor early in his career. While his narrow frame, subpar contact balance and long speed will likely hold back his ceiling, the agility, short-area acceleration and elusiveness allow him to cut North-South plus East-West and make defenders miss. Gaining a bigger role in the Sooners offense and being highlighted more often in the passing game could cause his stock to boom. He has the makings of a three-down back in the NFL who is tailored for modern offensive trends.

Grades

5th Round

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Background:

Eric Dewayne Gray was born Nov. 4, 1999 to Eric and Sharone Gray in Memphis, Tennessee. Father Eric Gray Sr. played running back at Tennessee State and was his son’s running back coach. His uncle, Maurice Hall, also played running back at Ohio State. Eric played quarterback until the 8th grade when he switched to running back at Lausanne Collegiate School where he finished with 2,499 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2018 after leading Lausanne to the Division II-AA state semifinals. Gray also earned the title of Three-time Tennessee Mr. Football Winner (2016, 2017, 2018). After high school, 247Sports ranked him as a 4-Star recruit, the 184th-best recruit nationally, the 3rd-ranked running back recruit in the country and the 5th recruit in the state of Tennessee. Eric Gray made a quick transition from high school to college. In his 2019 Freshman year, Gray led Tennessee with four rushing touchdowns and finished second on the squad with 539 rushing yards. In his 2020 Sophomore year, Gray Played in nine games and made five starts. He finished the year 6th in the SEC with rushing yards per game (85.8), eighth in total rushing yards (772) and sixth in yards from scrimmage per game (114.0). Gray scored six total touchdowns on the year (4 rushing, 2 receiving). Gray recently transferred from Tennessee to Oklahoma for the 2021 season. In an interview, Gray states, “Just looking at the past you see how great the offense is. I saw myself and how great I could fit into the offense, just playing for a guy like Lincoln Riley and having a position coach like DeMarco Murray, someone who’s played in the league (NFL), who’s been there before.” Gray’s coaches praise how he trains and prepares like a pro, making his transition very easy. Max Olson and Bruce Feldman said of Eric Gray, “Of the three Tennessee transfers who came to Oklahoma, he was the most impressive this spring and is the most game-ready right now.Players and coaches have both taken note of Gray’s versatility on the field. OU’s star quarterback Spencer Rattler has said of Gray , “Very explosive. He’s a guy that can make one cut and he’s gone. The other day in practice he had a run — reverse field, juked a linebacker and took it for 80. So, just that right there shows you what type of player he is; very confident, very humble player.In addition, OU running back Coach has high praise about Gray’s character, “The first word that comes to mind about Eric Gray is a pro, He’s a guy that shows up early, stays late. Extremely smart. The transition for him offensively scheme-wise has been honestly very easy for him.” Gray is also known to be extremely intelligent, finishing high school with a 3.5 GPA and being on the academic honor roll in college.