Gregory Likely To Be Available At 22, If 2014 Draft Is Indication

There were more failed drug tests at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine than any in recent memory, and one of the headliners of that group was Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Viewed by many as an early-to-mid round first round pick, Jernigan suffered a precipitous slide, all the way to the 48th overall pick in the second round, where the Baltimore Ravens snatched him up.

This is just one of many on the list, including Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who had a diluted urine sample at the event, thus failing the test. University of Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson was another, and he had a pre-draft visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year. Were they open to drafting him, or simply doing their due diligence to get his side of the story?

This year there exists a first round talent, a top-10 talent in the eyes of some, who has chosen to go down that very same path. University of Nebraska defensive end, Randy Gregory. His failed drug test at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine after testing positive for marijuana, thus clouding a once-very promising draft slot which likely had him being off the board within the first 5-10 picks.

“I don’t wake up every day saying, I’d really love to go smoke,” he said, according to NFL Media reporter, Kimberly Jones. “It’s not a struggle for me every day, it really isn’t. In the past, hell yeah, it’s been a struggle. It really has been. Now, I’m focused on my dream.”

However, that so-called dream of his, he has managed to somehow manipulate into a nightmarish occurrence which could likely see him suffer a “landslide” come draft day next Thursday. One has got to wonder, how on Earth a prospect with so much at stake would gamble on losing out on millions of dollars when they knowingly engage in a banned substance and KNOW a drug test is forthcoming.

Gregory will pay the price when it comes to the monetary value of his contract, if he falls as far as some speculate.  Jernigan signed a four-year, $4.382 million deal with the Ravens after his slide to the second round. I saw a lot of mocks, prior to Gregory’s positive test which had him going to the Redskins at 5, or even earlier to the Jaguars at 3.

Now, his drug test isn’t entirely 100 percent to blame if he suffers a fall, as his weight fluctuation has often been a subject as well. So we’ll say the Redskins would’ve taken him with the 5th pick. His contract would be likely very similar to the 5th pick in last year’s draft, which the Raiders used to select Khalil Mack. His deal was for four-years/$18,677,002. Now, I’m no mathematician but that’s roughly a difference of about $14 million. That’s a lot of money, folks.

NFL Network draft analyst, Mike Mayock, certainly feels Gregory has the talent to warrant a high first-round selection, as he has him ranked as the draft’s second-best edge rusher, only to Florida’s Dante Fowler, Jr. But his off-field troubles, in his eyes, will cost him come April 30.

“I’m very aware that he is going to slide,” Mayock said, according to College Football 24/7’s Bryan Fischer.  “He could wind up in the twenties or even into the second round.”

Mayock feels that may be a good thing for a dark-horse team, perhaps like the Steelers, who have shown in the past they’re not gun-shy when it comes to pulling the trigger on a troubled prospect.

“He’s going to lose millions of dollars as he slides down everybody’s board,” Mayock told Fischer. “As such, I look at this as an opportunity to get an unreal talent later in the draft for less money. He’s going to be motivated with something to prove, especially if he can get in a locker room that’s solid with really good mentoring.”

With leaders on the defensive side of the ball like Cameron Heyward, Lawrence Timmons and weight room phenom, James Harrison, to take Gregory under his wing, they have the perfect situation in the locker room for Gregory to blossom. And those names are just on the defensive side of the ball. With strong personalities on offense as well, like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, he could learn how to be a “pro’s pro.”

While recently showing up for a private workout for a team at sub-230 pounds, he would obviously be required to bulk up in Pittsburgh. I’m sure under the watch of Harrison that wouldn’t be a problem. Measuring 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds at the combine, he has the long frame to add another 20-30 pounds.

While some reports have surfaced as Gregory seeming “turned off” or “not interested” during official visits, his visit to Pittsburgh was anything but that, according to his Twitter, where he posted “Oh gawddddd” in reference to the six Lombardi Trophies he laid his eyes on. If available at 22, Kevin Colbert and company might entertain their entire 15 minutes on the clock weighing the pros and cons of nabbing him.

If the ’14 draft is a barometer, perhaps Mayock is right and Gregory will tumble. Even Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette thinks Gregory will indeed be available and the team will select him at 22.  But one things for sure, he knows how to get after the passer, and that’s something Pittsburgh sorely needs help with.

“I look at this kid as the ultimate boom or bust,” Mayock told Fischer. “Three years from now, he’s either going to be in the Pro Bowl or he’s going to be out of the league.”

  • steelersfan

    Too risky for me

  • CW

    Personally I’d rather they trade back with the Panthers who need a good left tackle and should be able to get one at 22 overall if Gregory, Peters, and Johnson out of Wake Forest are all there and draft which ever made it to 25th overall. Having probably an extra 4th and 7th round pick this draft cold be really helpful.

  • Louis Goetz

    I’m not defending Gregory. I don’t smoke or support marijuana use. But a lot of people don’t understand how marijuana tests work. And the biggest criticism a lot of people have of him is that he tested positive when he knew a drug test was coming. The NFL’s drug test detects both THC and the metabolite the body turns THC into. How long the THC metabolite will stay in your system after you smoke marijuana depends on two things: (1) your metabolic rate; and (2) how much you have smoked in the past. Someone who smokes once a month will produce a negative test a lot quicker than someone who smokes once a week. There is no magic formula to say when someone will test negative after smoking pot, especially when the most significant factor is your metabolic rate, which is different for everyone. That’s why so many players have tested positive at the combine. Player A can test positive even though he hasn’t smoked in two months while Player B smoked weed two weeks ago and tests negative.

  • SteelerMike

    You ask how Gregory fails a test he knows is coming? Based on his answer to Kim Jones, he has a serious self control issue. He actually admitted that it’s been “a struggle” in the past for him to get up and not smoke pot? That’s just stunning. I don’t see how any team takes him in the first round after that statement.

  • johnhoien

    Leveon,learned his lesson.. We hope.. But the cost is at least 2 games … That we’re really going to be w/ out his services.. This type of player in Gregory may or may not do the same thing… How many of these “lessons” can you have on a team before you are an extremely talented non issue, not making the playoffs because your teammates can’t pass on grass

  • Lucas Campbell

    Can’t agree more

  • Brian Miller

    Wow, what a shock that the “ratbirds” had no problem drafting Jernigan…they really don’t seem to care at all about off the field issues with players…

  • Brian Miller

    Yes sir, and I believe I read an interview with him where he stated that the last time he smoked was in November or December. My thing is, at least he owned up to it, stated his side, and took the blame unlike a lot of other players would have. But with weight fluctuations and maybe an indifferent attitude according to some, I just don’t see the Steelers taking that risk.

  • ApexSteel

    If it wasn’t for his weight I would say the weed use is no big deal, but if he can’t keep weight on he’s gonna have problems. Losing around 15 lbs in 1 months is crazy.

  • Superdriller316

    With the notion of the locker room being solid is a farce. Thee more leaders have gone, The Beard, Ike, and Troy. Even with those three, Bell still went out smoking weed and got a DUI.

    Pass on this pothead and any other questionable character prospects.

  • Rick M

    The Ravens took chances on Smith and Jernigan and it looks like they have won big on both (and Smith had far more problems than weed). I just think GM’s are now looking at guys like Smith, Jernigan, Mathieu, Janoris Jenkins, etc. and realizing it’s worth the gamble. There’s no way IMO that Gregory lasts until 22. If he does, take 15 seconds not 15 minutes and take him.

  • Louis Goetz

    My biggest questions with him have always been how is he going to stack up in the run game? And will his athleticism be negated by more athletic LTs in the NFL? He reminds me a lot of Barkavious Mingo, who’s been a complete bust. Will he be a Mingo? I don’t know, but can someone point to another 235 lb. OLB that has been successful in today’s NFL?

  • Rick M

    They took no risk with Jones and Shazier and so far the results haven’t been flattering. And yes I know that both players deserve to be looked at through 2015 before we make any judgements. But there are no guarantees of production from squeaky clean players.

  • Mark 4 Steelers

    The Steelers absolutely should take this kid if available at 22, then address CB in 2nd.

  • Rick M

    No question he has to get up to 250, and he says he’s played as high as 258. At 6’5″ he’ll be able to add weight easily.

  • 20Stoney

    I agree with you. We are trying to figure out who the leaders are. I don’t see this as a room heavy on leadership in any way. Lots of “maybe this guy is a leader.”

  • Mark 4 Steelers

    There’s no guarantee another team will want to trade up. This might work for the Steelers but it takes 2 to tango.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Too light in the shorts for me IMO.

  • Devon Day

    Get him in shape and knock some sense into him huh? Wish this would work on Dorial Green Beckham.

  • Devon Day

    Indeed. Lack of training comes to mind. In other words….. not enough work ethic.

  • Steve Johnson

    Too Risky. Based on the Colbert/Tomlin Draft history, they will probably draft him.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    For me it’s not about smoking weed it’s about his judgement and will power if i know i smoke heavy and i can get millions to stop if only for two months to be clean for the nfl combine then you can believe its getting done even if i have to go to
    N.A

  • Mark 4 Steelers

    Yes, the last 3 Presidents (Clinton, Bush & Obama) have all admitted to smoking Pot in college. Obviously, they didn’t let that define thier lives…and I predict most of these kids coming out of college to play professional sports wont either. That is why the predraft meetings are important, to gauge the kids mentality going forward. He is a little light in the shorts, but given good mentors in a good workout system…I see the physical frame and skillset of a much younger Osi Umenyiora.

  • Mark 4 Steelers

    Way to early to critique Mingo. The kid is only 1 injured plagued season into his NFL career. And, I am 100% certain Gregory’s playing weight in the NFL wont be 235. They’ll put weight on his a$$ fast. I dont see Gregory as a 2015 answer to the Steelers defense. I see him as a big asset for 2016 – 2026.

  • Rick M

    Someone else pointed the following out. Justin Houston fell from the late first round to the early third round because he tested positive at the combine. He’s had no issues since turning pro and he had 22 sacks last year. Young guys make mistakes, sometimes multiple mistakes. IMO it’s just not a big deal, and there are no guarantees either way (look at Le’Veon).

  • Rick M

    Wow you want to pass up both Peters and Gregory and risk that teams will leap-frog us once we trade back. I respect your opinion, but IMO you have to grab one of those two guys if they’re available at 22.

  • J.

    Gregory failed 3 drug test in 15 months. That means when he smoked in December (according to him this is what caused the fail) to cause his positive at the combine he was already on probation with Nebraska yet he still fired up risking getting kicked off the team. Scouts who have been assigned to watch him say they cannot sign off on him which means there is even more there that we don’t know about. Let him be some other teams problem. Drafting him would be a big mistake.

  • Jason Vancil

    It isn’t about what I, or anybody else thinks about personal marijuana use. It is about making mature decisions. And the fact is, we humans are unpredictable to a large degree. The only real indicator we have is someones past behavior. Gregorys past behavior shows he makes poor decisions. Therefore, he is a risk. Having said that, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress were known risks as well and the Steelers spent a 1st rounder and millions on them. I suspect, if his play on the field merits a high enough grade and he is available, the failed tests won’t stop them from drafting him.

  • J.

    Yes the last three Presidents did admit to it but they wold have all been smart enough to not test positive when they knew a test was coming. especially after already failing 2 test.

  • Lambert58

    He’s a helluva player. If his character checks out beyond the pot smoking stuff, I think the Steelers have to grab him at 22. He’s too good to pass up – he could be a difference maker on D that we haven’t had for a while. His ceiling is DPOY in my book.

  • Rick M

    Nobody (for or against) is right or wrong about the Gregory issue. But I do feel that a team can take more risks if they’re drafting at #22 as opposed to Top 15. You have a pretty good guarantee of a starter if you draft Top 15…at #22 not so much. So I have no problem if they roll the dice on Gregory. If he matures and puts on the expected weight, they’ll likely have a real impact defensive player for a decade.

  • Ike Evans

    If we draft Gregory then they are admitting jj is a bust and it’s official…. Gregory cannot play strong side… Hes not big enough unless the reports about his inability to hold weight are inaccurate… He would have to play weak side…. Just not big enough… That strong side OLB has to be able to hold up against the run because most teams run to that side a greater number of times

  • CW

    It’s a risk, but the Cards, Lions, and Panthers are all more likely to need an offensive player either lineman or running back and in each case the Panthers especially should be willing to roll the dice on trading up to get the best available tackle at 22nd overall.

    It helps that Gregory has an issue with MJ and Peters has done badly on interviews according to several different sources from team front offices. Those two facts alone should make it possible for both to drop to 25th overall. It also helps that Eddie Goldman, Maxx Williams, Eric Rowe, or one of the three I originally named should be there at 25th overall. In each case the Steelers could use a nose tackle, future starter at tight end or a potential first round cornerback as well as picking up extra draft picks to help fill depth needs elsewhere on the team later in the draft.

  • Jollyrob68

    Really? Didn’t help Bell from smoking the Blunt with Blount. Just Saying.

  • Rick M

    I certainly like the idea of more draft choices and possible depth. I just feel we are so weak right now on D that if a possible stud drops to us we need to take him.

    You also never know if a team may trade with Carolina to get Peters or Gregory (and the Panthers would still get a good O-lineman). N.E. would likely move up and pounce on either Peters or Gregory. Too risky in my books to pass one or both players at #22 and hope they’ll be available when we select. I appreciate that’s the route you would go, and respectful differing opinions are cool.

  • Matt Manzo

    It’s not the smoking that bothers me as much as it is how he speaks about it. When he said he smoked for anxiety cuz of the pressure of making the team, it just sounds like Ricky Williams. Makes me think he doesn’t have the head for the NFL.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I would feel better about “reaching” for a player like Jaelen Strong (a tremendous athlete and immediate impact offensive player) than gamble on a red-flag prospect like Gregory.

  • Devon Day

    I see it as what Mike Mayock stated, which is “Three years, he is going to be in the pro bowl, or be out of the league.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Bingo! This is exactly what worries me as well. He will be full of anxiety for the entirety of his NFL career whether it be trying to prove yourself, or holding off younger stronger players with an eye on your job, or trying to work back from a serious injury. There is no part of an NFL career lacking anxiety.

  • Tracy L Trent

    uh….it dont matter…what matters is…Did he use marijuana ever…recently…he was dirty…and my po didnt elaborate to me the difference when i tested dirty ..i was in violation period….question is…do you wanna take a chance that he wont have addiction issues here on out…risky but not out of the question…they are weighing everything out

  • Craig M

    Legality isn’t the issue- Bam Morris would leave his mouthpiece out on passing plays, a lackadaisical approach is the issue.

  • Craig M

    Bells stupidity was not do much in smoking pot or having a beer it was the driving offense that cost him the games.

  • Louis Goetz

    someone else posted that he’s played at 258 before. Have you hear anything like that?

  • ApexSteel

    Randy Gregory? Nooooo. He started his combine training at 218. So he at most he probably played at 225. The man barely got into the 240s last month.

  • Louis Goetz

    Seriously, what roles are the team leaders supposed to have? To what extent is a team leader supposed to impact a player? Is Ben Roethlisberger supposed to be on top of what players do on a Friday night? Is Cam Heyward supposed to keep tabs on who these guys are hang out with? I don’t know about you all, but to me, the leaders are the players who, in various ways, control or influence what others do from the moment they step foot in the building until the moment they leave the facility. 5 or 6 guys can control 65 men in a practice facility or football stadium, but no one can police 65 guys from every walk of life AND all of the other people they’re hanging out with, too. This isn’t a cult; it’s a football team.

  • Louis Goetz

    I looked. I couldn’t find anything saying he ever played at 258 before. If he had and then showed up at the combine weighing 218, we’d be able to stop having the marijuana conversation and start up the coke/crack/crystal meth conversation.

  • ApexSteel

    Right. I doubt he ever hits 260 haha. He just doesn’t keep on weight well.

  • WIINGY

    Makes you wonder why they even test for it.

  • mokhkw

    Good points on Holmes & Burress but as both of them did end up having issues once in the NFL I don’t think the Steelers will go down that path again for a long, long time.

    Adams was also a risk as a 2nd not long ago & that also hasn’t worked out.

    Thats why I think fans of selecting Peters, Gregory, J.Collins and any other players with character issues are in for a disappointment come draft day.

  • mokhkw

    Yep, the pressure isn’t about to lessen anytime soon playing in the NFL.

  • jfeust

    Because we certainly didn’t draft Mike Adams who also had failed drug tests.

  • Jason Vancil

    Hopefully a “cleaner” prospect will be available and they won’t have to decide. Although I admit Peters would be the one I would have a hard time passing on, issues be damned.

  • mokhkw

    I can definitely see Gregory sliding into the 20s but I also struggle to recall any teams that have used a 1st on a “bad character” guy recently outside of the Ravens in 11 with Jimmy Smith.

    Sure, teams like the Bengals take chances, but if you look at their last 10 1st rd picks, none were bad character guys.

    Back in the 90s it was Lawrence Phillips, Darrel Russell etc. getting drafted high but since the 2000s it seems teams have been reluctant to risk a 1st in such a way.

    2nd Rd & later there are plenty of examples, including the Steelers. Are there some 1st Rd “bad character” picks I’m not remembering in the last 10 years outside of Jimmy Smith?

    Reading between the lines it seems to me that Gregory will slide all the way to the 2nd Rd. Maybe the same will be true for Peters, Green-Beckham, etc. as well.

    Its also strange that Mayock is advocating a team using a 1st Rder on a player he admits is “ultimate boom or bust” and could be out of the league in 3 years. What GM wants to make that call and risk losing their job if they’re wrong?

  • Heather Danis

    I won’t hate the pick if Gregory is the one since the FO knows the risks involved, but I don’t see Jaelen Strong as a reach either. Right now I think most have him graded between 90-88. At 22, we’re looking at the tail end of 90 graded prospects and those at 89. I think that’s where Strong is mostly graded out so he’s right there already if the Steelers do too.

  • Reno

    Great point Mike. That statement is sticking with me as well. It was a struggle in the past but not now. Is it going to be a struggle again to help relieve the stress of being an NFL player? Drug addicts and alcoholics turn to drugs and alcohol when they can’t cope with the stress of reality.

  • Rick M

    Sometimes what consititutes’bad character is debatable (e.g. Dez Bryant’s NCAA suspension that caused him to fall out of the Top 10 in the draft). But there are some players with off-field issues who have still been drafted in the first round over the last decade or more. Jameis Winston will go as No. 1, Cam Newton went as #1, Aqib Talib’s had multiple suspensions in college, Blackmon, Elam, Ogletree, Bryant, etc. I think you’re right that teams often shy away from them. Some of those taken have worked out, some haven’t.

    The pot issue isn’t anything new, but we appear to be seeing it more often in recent years among college prospects. Mathieu had 10 failed drug tests by his own admission and Collins, another LSU player, has multiple failed tests as well. I would take the gamble on Gregory because of his upside. I’m not worried about the possibly of him being out of the NFL in 3 years. There are all sorts of first round draft choices (Curry, Maybin, Golston, etc.) who had no character issues and never made it in the pros. Some people on here want to roll the dice and take him, some don’t. Neither side is right or wrong. My opinion is colored by how little I’ve seen from ‘no problem’ players like Ziggy Hood, Jarvis Jones and even Shazier. If Gregory falls IMO, go for it.

  • Mike Clingan

    i think i remember another player back in the day that failed a drug test for pot and he was a pretty good player went to a few pro bowls and won a super bowl he fell and the bucs picked him dont think they ever regretted it his name was warren sap this that turned out pretty well for them

  • Jim McCarley

    What you need to understand is the is a kid…pretty much. For anyone to test positive for weed, you just need to have smoked some within about a 30 day period…..I’m not sure if the NFL has a % they are looking for to call it a positive test, but if it is just “any percentage at all”, then these tests are ridiculous. I know weed is banned, but what about Johnny Football and his alcohol addition..? It’s not like this kid is not coming to practice because he is out getting stoned, or come to practice stoned……was he ever busted for weed? No. If he falls to 22 and the Steelers really like his play, then I’d draft him and tell him that if he gets one positive test , he’s gone…..he may turn out to be a monster……again….this a very young man we are talking about….he might just need to grown up and have a bit of guidance….

  • Brian Miller

    One does not equate to a habit…

  • Conserv_58

    After having dealt with Santonio Holmes’ insubordination regarding his refusal to stop puffing the cheeb, even after he tested positive in an in-house test and was suspended by the team for four games, no one could blame the Steelers for being gun shy when Adams was stupid enough to test positive.