This year’s NFL draft, which kicks off Thursday, is supposed to be deep in pass rushers, but those ranks may be thinning at the top. Or, to put it another way, a pair of highly regarded defensive prospects may have weeded themselves out of the top 10, and possibly out of the first round altogether.
Monday brought reports that Missouri defensive end Shane Ray was busted for marijuana possession after getting pulled over for a traffic violation. Brandon Kiley of KTGR was first to pass along an arrest report by the Missouri State Police, in which a 21-year-old male named Shane M. Ray was cited for “1) possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana 2) fail to drive in the right lane of the highway with two or more lanes.”
From Missouri St. Highway Patrol: Shane Ray issued a warning for speeding, a lane violation & citation for 35 grams of pot (misdemeanor)
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 28, 2015
In March, it was revealed that Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory had failed a test for marijuana at February’s NFL draft combine. At the time, Gregory had been projected as a top-10 pick, and many mock drafts had the Redskins selecting him with their No. 5 pick.
In the wake of his admission of marijuana use, many subsequent mock drafts had Gregory sliding out of the top 10, and Ray was among the beneficiaries. Last week, The Post’s Mark Maske projected the Redskins to take Florida pass-rusher Dante Fowler, with Ray to the Jets at No. 6 and Gregory to the Saints at No. 13.
In 2014, the 6-3, 245-pound Ray notched 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss with Missouri, and he had scouts raving about his strength, motor and explosion off the line of scrimmage. However, the news of marijuana possession, just three days before the start of the draft, clouds his status.
Also, according to info from 5 NFL teams, Shane Ray failed a drug test early on in his career at Missouri. That comes back to haunt him now.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 28, 2015
In addition, Ray is recovering from a foot injury that reportedly does not require surgery, but that could also cause teams to pass on him with a high pick. In addition to Fowler, Clemson defensive lineman Vic Beasley might be climbing up the draft boards of teams looking for help in getting to opposing quarterbacks.
Ray had accepted an invitation to attend the NFL draft in Chicago, such was his and league officials’ confidence that he would be an early selection. The defensive end may want to re-think those plans now, although he could give new meaning to the concept of a draft prospect spending far too much time in the “green room.”
Update, 1:30 a.m.: Ray issued an apology (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter):
“I’d like to apologize to my Mother, Fans and prospective NFL teams for my poor judgement Monday morning . I am embarrassed and realize there are consequences for my actions. I was not under the influence nor impaired, therefore I was not detained. Fortunately, Mondays incident only resulted in a citation. I will make better choices in the future. It is imperative that I continue to strive to better myself. My future NFL career has been something I have always dreamed about and is very important to me. I commit that my actions will represent that. There are no excuses here and I will take the necessary steps to ensure this will not happen again. I will not jeopardize my ability to have a positive impact on and off the field moving forward.”