Former Dallas Cowboys second round pick, Randy Gregory, has begun the reinstatement process to rejoin the NFL. This is why we still care.
From the first day he arrived in Dallas, Randy Gregory has offered the Cowboys vast potential as well as extreme risk. Considered by many as a top-10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, a history of drug issues put him in a free fall on draft weekend.
The Dallas Cowboys eventually bit, selecting Randy Gregory with the 60th pick of the draft. The Dallas Cowboys were able to snag a first round talent with a late second round pick. Cowboys Nation was abuzz with this possible “steal of the draft.”
Sadly, things didn’t work out so well for the Dallas Cowboys. Randy Gregory would go on to fail drug test after drug test, eventually earning indefinite suspension – a status in which he currently resides. But instead of rehashing all the ugly details, let’s focus on why we care. For all intents and purposes, Randy Gregory is a colossal bust with a very uncertain future. Why are we still talking about him?
Why we care
We care about Randy Gregory because he still has every bit of potential today as he had the day he was drafted. In fact, with the his drug problems seemingly behind him, he arguably has more.
With only 14 career games under his belt, and one whopping sack to speak of, many statistic-focused “analysts” dismiss Gregory’s potential impact. But watching him on film tells an entirely different story.
Gregory has the type of quick-twitch explosion and edge bend that every team covets in a pass-rusher. Only a handful of these types of players exist in the NFL and Randy is one of them. Because of repeated suspensions he’s never been able to work on his technique and hone his skills, but the ability is undeniable.
Fills a need
Randy Gregory, 6’5” 245lbs, has long and powerful arms that make him a dangerous weapon on the edge. Not only can he round the corner, but he can also counter inside. In fact, most of his college production was using his strength and quickness to counter inside. It’s this secondary move that puts him ahead of most young edge rushers.
Looking at the roster, it appears the Cowboys are packed with edge players. But further review shows they are rich in left defensive ends but poor in right defensive ends. It’s the RDE that’s responsible for majority of the pass-rush since the weakside typically has less run and screen responsibilities.
DeMarcus Lawrence “Tank” has been able to thrive largely from the LDE spot. He’s every bit a run-stopper and screen-stopper as he is a pass-rusher. That’s really what makes Tank so special. Lawrence’s ability to dominate on the left side, opens things up for Gregory on the right side.
At RDE, Gregory wouldn’t be tasked with too many responsibilities other than pass-rushing. Sure he’d be facing off against left tackles, but he would be working in rotation and will be able to attack with a single mindset.
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Why should we have optimism
It’s hard to be optimistic about someone who’s done nothing but disappoint. And while it would be irresponsible to count on Randy Gregory in any capacity, there are legitimate reasons for optimism.
Randy Gregory failed multiple drug tests in college. He failed a scheduled drug test at the Combine. SCHEDULED! He then failed multiple tests with the Cowboys.
But according to Mike Fisher, he’s applying for reinstatement with two years of clean tests under his belt.
If you look back through Randy Gregory’s history, two years is likely the longest he’s gone without drugs since he graduated high school. That’s a pretty big deal.
The Dallas Cowboys have built a roster deep enough that they don’t NEED Randy Gregory. But that doesn’t mean they can’t use him.
If Randy Gregory gets reinstated and can stay clean, he could do something he’s never done before: Stay on the field and develop his skills. Even as a rotational player, Gregory could make an enormous impact in 2018 as the nickel RDE.
It’s OK to get excited about Randy Gregory’s potential return. He’s not being counted on in any way. He’s merely a luxury piece that could put the Cowboys over the top. That’s reason for all of us to care.