Chicago Bears Draft Prospect Profile: DE Shane Ray
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
With the draft roughly a month away Beargoggleson will be breaking down a wide range of options for the Chicago Bears in the 2015 draft. We’ll start with the potential first round options, breakdown some possible day 2 prospects, and finish up with some under the radar day 3 players who I think could be good fits for the Bears new schemes on both sides of the ball. We’re starting this prospect series with the player I had the Bears drafting in my first two mock drafts, Shane Ray. As always, if you have any complaints, advice, or questions please let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
DE/OLB Shane Ray, Missouri
Measurables – 6’3 | 245
Attributes (40 / vertical / broad jump) – 4.55 | 33″ | 10′
College: Ray spent most of his sophomore season as a backup behind future NFL draft picks Kony Ealy (2nd round) and Michael Sam (7th round) so only had 4.5 sacks. Ray took over as a starter his junior year and was so productive that he earned the SEC’s defensive player of the year award. He finished his junior season with 20.5 TFLs and 13.5 sacks which broke the single season sack record at Missouri.
Strengths: Productive pass rusher who has an explosive first step and relentless motor. Ray is an elite athlete, who shows great bend around the edge getting almost parallel to the ground, changes directions quickly without losing speed, has the closing burst to run down any QB, and consistently gives his all to finish the play. Most of Ray’s 13.5 sacks last year came on pure speed, athleticism, and pursuit. He has shown a few pass rush moves, but they will need to get better to beat NFL tackles. With his speed and first step he will get sacks in the pros, but developing a few go-to rush moves could make Ray an All-Pro.
Weaknesses: Ray is a little shorter and lighter than ideal for a 3-4 OLB, but he has enough size to be effective. He will make some plays against the run in pursuit, but like most pass rushers Ray struggles when teams run right at him. He needs to get better at shedding blocks and diagnosing plays, but has the quick burst, elite athleticism, and non-stop motor to be an impact pass rusher early in his career.
Bears Fit: The Bears have more OLBs than they can possibly play on a regular basis, but none of them have an explosive burst around the edge like Ray. The list of Bears potential OLBs is long and mostly undistinguished (McPhee, Houston, Allen, Young, Jones, Washington, Acho, Bass, McClellin) but there are some potentially effective players in that group. Effective, but not explosive. Even Pernell McPhee, the Bears high priced free agent, is more of a power rusher than a speed guy. What the Bears are missing is an explosive edge rusher who has the athleticism to beat elite NFL tackles, but Shane Ray could be that guy.
For a little historical perspective, in Vic Fangio’s first year as defensive coordinator of the 49ers in 2011, they also had the 7th overall pick and took an OLB from Missouri, Aldon Smith. Fangio’s hybrid scheme depends on a consistent pass rush off the edge from the OLBs, which makes it a crucial position and worth investing a high 1st round pick on. I’ve mentioned the Bears depth at OLB, but it’s very possible (probable?) that none of them are elite pass rushers. Ray has the skill-set and potential to be an elite OLB in Fangio’s scheme, so despite the Bears holes at numerous other positions, it may make sense for the Bears to take an edge rusher like Ray with the 7th overall pick.
Draft Projection: Top 15