nobody movie_Danny Gray could be the big threat the Vikings need

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The Minnesota Vikings have been blessed with consistent production from the wide receiver position for the past seven years. Adam Thielen and Stefan Diggs both significantly outperformed their draft slots. Not to mention the first round selection Justin Jefferson took the league by storm early in his pro career. Add a few late-round receivers that provided quality depth KJ Osborn and Olabisi Johnsonand you have an above-average group of wideouts.

For all of the depth of quality Minnesota has in wide receivers, there’s not much positional versatility these players offer outside of Jefferson and Thielen. Osborn and Johnson are slot dudes and Himmir Smith-Marsette is not yet a persistent deep threat. Aside from those three, you have a selection of practice team-caliber players who are unlikely to make the final 53-man roster.

The Vikings could use a wide receiver who can top the opposition defense. you recently met with fast SMU wide receiver Danny Gray, ranked as the No. 64 overall player in this year’s draft and the No. 8 wide receiver from Hall of Famer Gil Brandt. Not only did he clock a 4.33 40 at the combine (T-sixth fastest of any competitor), he was also a Texas state champion, running the 100-meter dash and 4 × 100-meter relay. Texas is the second most populous state in the country, so it’s a special honor.

So it should come as no surprise that Gray is an above average athlete for his position. His RAS score is supported by his exceptionally fast 40-yard dash and split times, and a great long jump performance. However, he tested poorly on the three-cone drill and shuttle run, which is worrying. For those who don’t know, the three-cone drill was designed to test a player’s acceleration and ability to quickly change direction. The shuttle run also tests acceleration, but places more emphasis on lateral speed. In short, even though Danny Gray has an elite top speed, it will take him a considerable amount of time to reach it.

Regardless of how well someone does at the combine or on their pro day, it’s only part of the equation that determines success in the NFL. Watching a movie is important to better understand Gray as a player. One of the things that has struck him is how well he can track the deep ball. Gray (No. 5) shoots past his man in single coverage in the video below, but Mordecai subdues the ball. Luckily, he threw it close enough for Gray to adjust and catch.

Gray has potential for threat even after being caught. SMU head coach Rhett Laslee loved using him as a gadget player, frequently waving him over the line of scrimmage, and making him the main reader for RPOs. The next clip shows his YAC ability in a play-action screen pass. Gray can use his elusive ability on second-and-five to get the first down.

Another thing I like about Gray is that he has shown that he can find weak spots in zones. Aside from the route running ability, this is probably the most important ability for a receiver trying to achieve a separation. I don’t want you to focus on where the ball was thrown, but look at what Gray did on this game. He ran a short crossing route until he noticed a hole in the short middle of the field, so he just sat in that zone with no one covering him and waited for a possible checkdown pass. Kudos to him for doing the right thing here, even if he wasn’t targeted at this game.

Gray needs to do a lot more of that if he wants to be a consistent threat in the passing game as his route tree is severely constrained. In all the games I’ve watched he’s only done crossing routes, in routes, go routes, slopes and screens. Because of this, he wasn’t as involved in the passing game as you would like. Despite being the most athletic player on offense, Gray only made the rankings Third in his team in receptions Behind Rashee Rice and Reggie Roberson Jr. Rice is currently the 126th place WR in the draft class of 2023, while Roberson is projected to be a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft class.

Gray also drops his fair share of passes, in large part due to his habit of catching the ball with his upper body. During his time with SMU, Gray caught 82 passes with a meager 66.7% catch rate. Adding to this concern This problem only seems to be getting worse. In 2021, his drop rate increased from 8.3% to 12.5%.

Additionally, Gray isn’t the most physical player, which is highlighted when he plays against press coverage and when he’s assigned to the running block. He’s pretty bad at both. The running game below blew up because Gray is so careless as a blocker.

Finally, Gray struggled academically, which is worrying. Most players who are considered raw prospects and also struggle academically generally don’t last very long in the league and Gray is definitely a development project at WR.

Danny Gray reminds me of Dillion Mitchell. Both are deep threats who are above average athletes but still have very raw prospects. While it’s true that the Vikings need another serious passing threat that can punish opponents for Jefferson’s double-teaming, I don’t think Gray is the kind of player you can count on right away. Minnesota should wait at least until the fifth round before they consider drafting Gray, and it should come with the expectation that he won’t contribute immediately.

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