Houston Texans Draft Watch; Shane Ray


Shane Ray was at one point one of the highest rated defensive ends in the upcoming NFL Draft. After a less than stellar pro day, the SEC defensive player of the year has dropped some in the eyes of the draft experts, which could play right into the hands of the Houston Texans.

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NFL Network’s Mike Mayock now has the former Missouri Tiger ranked as the number five overall edge rusher, down from second in Mayock’s previous ranking.

While I personally find it absurd that a scout would take so much stock in a pro day. What really matters to me is how a player performs while on the field, and in 2014 Ray produced at a high rate.

65 tackles, 22.5 for a loss and 14.5 sacks by Ray made him one of the more feared pass rushers in all of the NCAA. And while Mayock may have soured on the defender due to a lackluster 40 yard dash (4.68 seconds), NFL scouts rave about how Shane performed during his junior year according to Fox Sport’s Luke Thompson.

"“(Scouts) love his explosion off the ball,” says Russ Lande, the founder of GM Jr. Scouting and draft expert for Sporting News. “Unlike most really high-end pass rushers, he’s a strong, powerful kid who can get off blocks at the point of attack.”"

The knock that I can see on Ray is he is a bit undersized to be a defensive end in the NFL. Standing 6’3″ and weighing only 245 pounds it is unlikely that he would be successful as 4-3 end and constantly lining up with his hand in the dirt. Where he could succeed however, is as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 system, another plus for the Texans who run this system.

There is a chance that Ray is still around when the Texans are on the board with their 16th overall selection on April 30th. Both Rob Rang and Will Brinson from CBS sports believe that he will not only be there in the middle of the round, but both selected Houston as his potential landing spot.

Pass rusher may not seem like a top need, given that Houston has defensive end J.J. Watt and linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, who are all first round picks. However when you factor in Clowney’s injury problem and look at how few sacks Mercilus has produced for a first round selection (18 in three seasons), this pick makes perfect sense.

And at least one NFC scout seems to believe that Ray will not be a disappointment for whichever team winds up selecting him. Here is the quote from his NFL.com draft profile.

"“He’s not like other guys from Missouri that we’ve seen. He’s got serious speed to get over the top of tackles and those other ends didn’t have it. You just wish he was a little longer.” — NFC outside linebackers coach"

Shane Ray could make up for previous misses in the draft while helping Watt provide pressure on quarterbacks. A second capable edge rusher will allow the team to slowly bring Clowney along as he recovers from offseason surgery. Once Clowney is healthy the Texans could have three potentiality dominant pass rushers flying around in their front seven.

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