Missouri Tigers’ Shane Ray Moving Rapidly Up NFL Draft Rankings


After an extremely impressive start to the 2014 season which has left him leading all of the Football Bowl Subdivision in sacks with eight, Missouri Tigers defensive end Shane Ray has put himself firmly on the radar of several high-profile NFL Draft gurus. On their latest draft boards�published Wednesday, Ray broke into the Top 10 rankings of both ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, with Kiper ranking him sixth, while McShay has him 10th.

Kiper was very complementary of Ray, saying:

"�System fit will be a discussion, but what he can do is play with tremendous energy, beat blockers and get to the passer, so it’s going to work out. What I like about Ray is he combines a relentless effort level with a range of pass-rushing moves. He’s not just a speed-rusher off the edge; he’ll get on the inside shoulder of a tackle and drive through, creating pressure from the inside. Super productive and disruptive so far."

McShay also spoke highly of Ray’s ability, though his praise was a bit more measured than Kiper’s:

"Ray has a bit of a tweener frame right now, with below-average height and a lean build, but he has elite speed for the position, and he explodes off the line with his first step, quick feet and hands, and effective spin move. He has initial pop but needs to improve his ability to convert speed to power. He’s an active and disruptive force against the run, making a lot of plays in pursuit, but his lean frame and lack of strength limit his effectiveness against the run overall. Ray has a relentless motor, and he currently leads the nation in sacks after recording two in the Tigers’ comeback win over South Carolina last week."

It should be interesting to see if Ray can maintain this momentum through the entire season. He’s a redshirt junior, so obviously he’ll have a choice to make about whether he wants to return for his senior season or declare for the draft.

It must be noted that a similar Mizzou player, Michael Sam, got off to a very strong start last season, with six sacks through five games and nine through seven, yet he still ended up falling almost completely out of the draft, through it’s very fair to debate whether that was more because of his on-field ability or his sexual orientation. It’s odd to see the keywords like “relentless effort”, and “tweener frame”, which were used as a knock on Sam during the pre-draft process, being applied to Ray so early on.

With that said, the key for Ray will likely be his ability to contribute as a pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4 defense. If that’s the case, we could see him go at the top of the first round, much like Louisville’s Marcus Smith did in the 2014 draft.