Earlier this month John McClain of the Houston Chronicle had the Houston Texans selecting Kentucky edge rusher Alvin “Bud” Dupree in his first round NFL mock draft. His second version had the team selecting outside linebacker Shane Ray from Missouri.
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McClain has stuck to his guns in the third version of his NFL first round mock draft as he again has the team selecting a guy to play linebacker in the Texans 3-4 defense. However, this time it is a potential top five talent who is sliding due to recent off field issues.
The Chronicle writer has the Houston Texans selecting Nebraska outside linebacker Randy Gregory in his mock draft version 3.0. The star defender only played two years of college ball, but managed 120 tackles, 25.5 for a loss and 17.5 sacks.
He is tall, listed at 6’6″, but thin at 235 pounds. He does have room to add weight, but even as slimas he is, the linebacker is surprisingly strong. He has also shown a knack for swatting passes, deflecting four at the line of scrimmage in 2014.
“He better light it up on the field, and not off it” – McClain
An incredibly high 6.52 rating on his NFL.com draft profile shows that people who pay attention to the draft are enamored with his skill set. The problem is that Gregory has shown a lack of maturity away from the game as he failed a drug test at the scouting combine. His skill and his mistake were all mentioned in his draft profile.
"“A 3-4 outside linebacker with the length, toughness and closing burst to immediately help a run defense. Gregory could stand to add more weight to his frame and needs plenty of technique work and a patient coach for his pass-rush skill to match his traits. Gregory’s draft stock has been clouded with a positive drug test at the combine to go with failed tests for marijuana while at Nebraska. High-ceiling, low-floor prospect.”"
The question becomes whether or not the incident was one isolated mistake or a telling sign of an eventual string of bad behavior. While some guys may have made one mistake and never looked back, there is always the potential to see a player like Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon, who can’t stop smoking long enough to make it through a season.
The outside linebacker position for the Texans could use some help given the injury status of last years top pick Jadeveon Clowney and the departure of Brooks Reed (now with Atlanta). Gregory would be an upgrade over what they had in Reed, but only if he is able to suit up and play.
If the team feels comfortable with Gregory’s off field life and decides to grab him at number 16, he would be a steal from a talent perspective.