Cowboys: Randy Gregory’s potential impact on the draft

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 01: Randy Gregory #9 Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 01: Randy Gregory #9 Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

After more than a year in banishment, Cowboys pass-rusher, Randy Gregory, is making steps to return to the team. How might his return impact Dallas’ draft?

Randy Gregory has been gone, but in Cowboys Nation, he’s far from forgotten. After missing the entire 2017 NFL season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Randy Gregory appears to be on the path to reinstatement.

Such a possibility has reinvigorated the collective imagination of the Dallas fanbase, who have been dreaming of Gregory’s potential since the day he was drafted. Now that the day appears nigh, it’s probably a good time to talk about what type of impact he could have in free agency and the upcoming draft…

Roster Building

No one should be surprised if they see Randy Gregory – the steal of the 2015 draft – play for the Dallas Cowboys this coming season. And no one should be surprised if they never see Randy Gregory – the bust of the 2015 draft – ever play again.

Cautious optimism rules the day regarding No. 94. For as much as we want him to be on the field realizing his immense potential, we must come to grips with his volatile status in the NFL and his history of behavior.

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The Dallas Cowboys must build their roster without Randy Gregory in mind. They cannot afford, at any point, to say, “Player A would be a good addition, but when Randy Gregory comes back, we really wouldn’t need Player A.”

There are too many things out of the Cowboys’ control in this situation: First, we have Roger Goodell and the league office. They are the end-all be-all in suspension matters (just ask Ezekiel Elliott) and they won’t let pesky things like facts or fairness get in the way of making a final decision.

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Then we have Randy Gregory. He’s indefinitely on thin ice and can’t afford the slightest infraction regarding his substance abuse testing.

Based on his history of missed/positive tests, this could send shivers down your spine. But as Mike Fisher illustrated, just to get to this point, Randy has had clean tests for 19 consecutive months. Based on his previous positive tests, it’s safe to say that hasn’t happened since high school.

There’s a ton to be optimistic about regarding Randy Gregory’s return. Gregory, once thought of as a top-10 talent (arguably top-5) in the 2015 draft, carries with him vast untapped potential. While his paltry statistics at the NFL level leave something to be desired, his film undeniably boasts his talents.

Biggest impact in the draft

Randy Gregory’s possible return will not discourage the Cowboys from drafting a defensive end at any point in the draft. But Randy Gregory will have an impact.

Randy Gregory’s biggest impact will be his influence on how the Cowboys assess risk. Gregory carried with him tremendous value when he fell to pick 60.  But he also carried with him tremendous risk. The past two seasons he’s played in a mere two games. That’s unacceptable output for a Day 2 pick in the draft.

When the Cowboys weigh risk later this month, you can bet the Randy Gregory lesson will be on their minds. This isn’t to say they won’t take calculated gambles – they will – but they will likely leave those gambles for Day 3 when the stakes aren’t quite as high.

Next: Cowboys Mock Draft (April 3): 30-visits tell the tale

With any luck, the Cowboys will correct their, now legendary, risky second round behavior. Let’s save those risks for later when the stakes aren’t quite as high. And if they can add a potential star player back to the active roster in Randy Gregory, then all the better.