#17 Rashan Gary, Defensive Line, Michigan
As the 2016 number one overall college recruit, Rashan Gary comes in at number 17 on the Raider Ramble draft board. In college, there were high expectations for Gary, which comes with the territory of being a sought after recruit. It’s safe to say he didn’t live up to expectations as he only managed 9.5 sacks in three seasons at Michigan. While his production leaves something to be desired, scouts and general managers will marvel at his athleticism. At the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, he ranked first among defensive ends in the bench press, 40-yard dash and broad jump (tied for first with Ed Oliver). All things considered, the question remains: Is Rashan Gary more than just hype? The answer is to be determined, but defensive linemen with his combination of strength and athleticism don’t grow on trees.
Rashan Gary’s athleticism appears in his ability to run stunts. He runs stunts quickly, fluidly and finishes with great acceleration to put pressure on the quarterback. This allows defensive coordinators to become more creative in their pass rush scheme without having to blitz. He is also able to get extension against offensive linemen and combines that with his ability to shed blockers well, which allow him to make plays against the run at or behind the line of scrimmage. In one-on-one pass rush situations, Gary needs to learn how to use his hands more, develop a counter move and not solely rely on his athleticism. He has a tendency to go chest to chest with offensive linemen, which negates his strength and will lead to him getting pancaked in the NFL. If Gary can learn to take on half a man, his combination of power and agility could be lethal in the NFL. With a player that possesses this much athletic potential and doesn’t have the production to match, you’d normally place the blame on how he was coached. However, Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown aren’t exactly no-name.
Fit for the Raiders
The Raiders should be very cautious when evaluating Gary. He is a risk that a lot of teams might not want to take in the first round. However, the Raiders are in a unique situation by having three first round picks. Gary at pick 4 would be a huge mistake, but if he’s still on the board at picks 24 or 27, his potential might be worth the pick. Schematically, he would fit nicely in defensive coordinator Paul Gunther’s 4-3 defense and would likely have instant chemistry with former college teammate, Maurice Hurst. The chemistry between Hurst and Gary would allow Gunther and Oakland to run more stunts, giving a team that struggled to put pressure on the quarterback more options to do so. Also, Gary’s most productive year at Michigan was his sophomore season, when he played alongside Hurst and had 5.5 sacks.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has made some risky decisions throughout his career. The Giants need an edge rusher and Gettleman’s questionable decision making history and the high risk that comes with drafting Gary seems like a match made in heaven. Carolina is in the market for an edge rusher and Gary might be the best one available at pick 16. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan turns 31 years old in August and Preston Smith signed with the Packers in the offseason, so the Redskins should be looking for pass rush help. Kerrigan could serve as a veteran mentor and help Gary refine his pass rush skills. As far as career development, the Washington might be Gary’s best option.