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.”