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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Cedric Gray (LB – North Carolina)

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Cedric Gray (LB – North Carolina)

As the college football season barrels toward, FantasyPros will be taking a look at early NFL Draft scouting reports before the Combine in March. Here’s a look at Cedric Gray.

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Cedric Gray

Cedric Gray (LB – North Carolina)

6’2″ – 235 lbs.

Background:

Four-star recruit who also lined up at receiver in high school. Played sparingly as a freshman, then stepped into the starting lineup the following year, mostly playing middle linebacker and totaling 99-6.0-2.5 with two interceptions on the year. Had an even more productive junior season of 145-12.0-1.0 and two interceptions.

Positives:

Three-year starter with impressive overall length and musculature. One of the most polished linebackers in the class. Reads plays quickly and is willing to step into the hole and take on blocks to stuff the run; rarely overcommits and ends up running himself out of the play. Does a good job of keeping his shoulders square to the line. When playing downhill, has enough lower-body strength and explosiveness to avoid getting overwhelmed by opposing blockers in the hole; functional strength is much better than his size would suggest. Gets good extension to lock out opposing blockers, with the knee-bend to compete in the leverage battle. Quick feet to work his way through traffic. Athletic enough to pursue to the sideline, working hard to chase down opposing ballcarriers. Closes well as an open-field tackler. An effective hit-and-wrap tackler with a wide radius because of his length; generates some pop on contact, and can help set the tone defensively. Able to carry backs out of the backfield or down the sideline on wheel routes. Looks fast when schemed a lane as a pass-rusher and also has the ability to work through gaps because of his quickness and flexibility.

Negatives:

Wasn’t quite as efficient this year as in 2022. Has added bulk already, but some teams may ask him to put on another few pounds. A good athlete, but perhaps not a freak like some of his competitors in the class; might struggle to carry receivers down the seams. Coverage responsibilities mostly involved sitting in short zones or working against opposing running backs; would like to see him shade over the slot more or work against tight ends. Looks better playing downhill than dropping, with a little bit of wasted motion in some of his transitions as a coverage defender.

Summary:

A very impressive linebacker prospect who took a big step forward in 2022, really putting himself on the map with his excellent combination of instincts, technique, athleticism and functional strength. Didn’t quite replicate that success, but is more advanced than most other players at his position in the class, and should be able to provide solid every-down play sooner rather than later. Looks worthy of a day-two selection but hasn’t been getting quite as much hype as some of the other prospects, so it’s possible he falls further.

Projection: Round 3-4

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