Good news! Can you believe it? During the biggest dead period in the entire NFL season, the Cowboys were hit with some very good news on Tuesday. Pass rusher Randy Gregory has been reinstated by the NFL and will be eligible to return to the team for practices, meetings, and workouts.
Gregory has some stipulations he must abide by before he is able to return to the field in full, but if everything that is being reported is true, he should be able to follow the guidelines the NFL laid out for him. For the Cowboys though, they have a opportunity to add a player that could really help their pass rush in 2018.
When the Cowboys drafted Gregory with the 60th overall pick they thought they were getting a player who had elite traits as a pass rusher. Gregory had elite length, great speed, and some of the best college tape of any pass rusher in the 2015 NFL Draft. And they hope that the former second-round pick can return to the form they once thought they were getting.
There’s no denying that Gregory has all the tools to be a dynamic pass rusher in the NFL. He has the speed, the length, the bend, and the hustle. In order for the former Nebraska standout to make his mark for the Cowboys, he’ll need to get into shape and stay healthy. When in shape, Gregory showed signs of being a very good rusher in the little bit of action we saw of him in 2016. Gregory, after missing the first 14 games of the season of the 2016 season, showed up and played well in weeks 16 and 17.
On this rep, Gregory doesn’t bully Eagles’ LT Jason Peters by any means. What he is able to do is beat Peters with explosiveness off the snap, knock him off balance using his length, and keep his eyes on the quarterback and make Carson Wentz scramble for a throw-away. If Gregory were to rush too far up field, or not force Wentz outside of the pocket, this could have resulted in a big play for the Philadelphia offense.
Gregory is a freaky athlete. Here, he makes this sack look easy, and it’s far from it. Plays like this are reasons the Cowboys took the big risk drafting him in the second round.
The most impressive thing about Gregory’s week 16 and 17 performance in 2016, was how well he played the run. Gregory was never known for being much of a run defender in college, but he showed up on multiple occasions against the Eagles and the Lions two years ago.
Imagine this lining up on the other side of DeMarcus Lawrence, with David Irving and Maliek Collins in between them..... pic.twitter.com/zempXJZIJ6— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) May 7, 2018
Most of the time when talking about explosiveness in defensive ends, it is related to their pass rush, but here his explosiveness is on full display on a great tackle for loss against Eagles RB Darren Sproles. Gregory blows by Zach Ertz, and Jason Peters is way late to help chip Gregory and knock him off balance. He’s just so quick out of the snap that whoever’s blocking him has to be just as quick out of their stance, or Gregory will beat them off the snap. Another underrated trait of Gregory is his tackle range due to the 34” arms he has. Gregory is able to corral ball carriers in the open field with ease due to his freaky wingspan.
Another example of Randy Gregory showing off his freaky explosiveness. It’s crazy to think that Gregory hadn’t been on a football field for almost four months prior to these two games. Imagine what we could get out of him if he goes through a full training camp and preseason? Whew.
Check out the hustle here from 94. pic.twitter.com/Gjd7RYGoZY— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) May 7, 2018
One of my favorite plays from Randy Gregory in a Cowboys uniform is this one right here. Is it a game winning sack? No, but it shows off the little things that Gregory does so well. Yes, Gregory does crash down and give up the edge, but what he does after is very impressive. Gregory realizes Sproles is heading for the whole he left open, instead of giving up on the play, Gregory changes directions and chases the 5-foot-6 running back down to save a huge gain.
Should you expect Randy Gregory to come in and completely take over the league? No, but don’t sleep on Gregory either. Yes, he has been a disappointment so far for the Cowboys, but it certainly seems like he has done a lot of soul searching over the last year or two and is a completely different man now. The Cowboys need Randy Gregory and Randy Gregory may need the Cowboys, the two are a perfect fit for each other. It wouldn’t surprise one bit if by mid season Mr. Gregory has earned himself a large role in the Cowboys pass rush.