Oct 18, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Shane Ray (56) rushes against the Florida Gators during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Missouri Tigers defeated the Florida Gators 42-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Defense should and likely will be addressed in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. In a rookie class overflowing with edge rushers, Missouri defensive end Shane Ray sticks out like a sore thumb due to his freakish athletic ability.
Ray, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, was recognized as an unanimous All-American and voted first-team All-SEC. If he somehow fell down the draft board to No. 13, Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis would be foolish to ignore such an excellent talent. This is an NFL-ready pass rusher with the skill set to make an immediate impact on the football field.
The 6-foot-3 Kansas City, MO native, weighing in at 245 pounds, finished his junior and final year at Mizzou with 65 total tackles and 14 sacks in 14 games played (postseason included).
Nov 1, 2014; Columbia, MO, USA; Kentucky Wildcats running back Stanley Williams (18) is tackled by Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Shane Ray (56) during the second half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
His measurables are extraordinary, reportedly bench pressing over 400 pounds and jumping 40-plus inches in the vertical. He was also clocked in at 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash — that’s 245 pounds of solid muscle moving incredibly fast, like a freight train.
Ray launches himself off the line with explosive force that is backed by a rare first-step move that grants him the ability to beat tackles and get to the quarterback. He also shows good play awareness, ball locating skills and outstanding change of direction, helping him find success against the run.
He is a bit undersized for his position and is still improving against the ground attack, but his athletic dexterity that is boosted by strength, speed and an explosive first step will land him on a team early in the first round of the draft.
Ray’s position flexibility gives him the capacity to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He would be a perfect fit in the Big Easy — Akiem Hicks and Parys Haralson need to be replaced in the starting front seven. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could certainly make use of a guy of Ray’s caliber, and if he falls down to No. 13, Christmas could come early for the Who Dat Nation.