Only a couple of years ago, Dallas Cowboys’ Randy Gregory was on his way out of the league. With an impressive 2018 season, his trajectory is pointing up.
Every team in the league has certain draft tendencies: Pittsburg Steelers always draft a receiver, the New England Patriots draft a quarterback, etc. The Dallas Cowboys’ tend to take risks in the second round– selecting elite players with an injury history or other red flags. Dallas’ young defensive end, Randy Gregory, was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft. What was a first round talent, fell to being a second round pick because of a failed drug test at the NFL combine.
In his first three seasons (’15-’17), Gregory only played in 14 games out of a possible 48. In those games and in training camps, he showed the potential was there. Being given the honor to wear the number 94 on his jersey was a testament to what he could be– Cowboys’ legends Demarcus Ware and Charles Haley turned those digits into a sacred number.
But his off-field problems overshadowed all of it. Dealing with three separate drug-related suspensions prevented him from stacking games together and forming any sort of rhythm. Gregory had the speed and pass-rush moves to get to the passer, despite only recording one sack in those contests.
Playing defensive end is all about rhythm. As the phrase goes, “sacks come in bunches”. So because Gregory never got to get regular reps, he never developed. It can take years for young edge rushers to turn into elite players, just look at Demarcus Lawrence.
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After the news broke that Gregroy would miss 14 games in 2017, the Cowboys’ gamble in the second round looked like it would never pay off.
However, that ideology has changed in a short time period. The defensive end played 14 games in 2018, and racked up five sacks. One of which, came against the Philidelphia Eagles’ perenial Pro Bowler, Jason Peters.
Gregory is gonna be something special pic.twitter.com/Y9cXoc1cz6
— Sundays are for the Boyz (@SundaysBoyz) February 25, 2019
This play demonstrates how Gregory is not just a fast guy. He uses great techniques and changes up his moves. Like route running, the trick to winning is setting one move up to look like another you previously performed. Earlier in the game, Gregory came off the line of scrimmage just like he did on this play, but tried to bend the edge– he gets Peters with the swim move.
Gregory’s ceiling is very high. He possesses all the physical and mental attributes to be a top-15 pass rusher. With Lawrence demanding double teams, and with some better defensive tackle play, Gregory will be in a great position to increase his production.