Raiders

Raiders Should Consider Willy Gay Jr. on Day 3

Depth is crucial in the NFL at all positions and the Las Vegas Raiders desperately need it at the linebacker position. Willie Gay Jr., out of Mississippi State, could be provide it.

Not every starter, especially on defense, can play every single down. With different personnel packages and down and distance needs, some skill sets are better suited for certain situations, something great teams are aware of. The Raiders did a pretty solid job at adding guys on days two and three of the draft last year. Some of those picks turned into full-time starters by season’s end and contributed in big ways.

With most of the starting positions most likely taken up by either incumbent players, free agent acquisitions, or the two first-round picks, the Raiders are going to most likely be looking for depth on days two and three. Gay Jr., out of Mississippi State, could be one of pieces targeted by general manager Mike Mayock.

Related: Kyle Dugger Could Be Intriguing for the Raiders

NFL Draft: Raiders Should Consider Willy Gay Jr.

Strengths

Gay is the definition of heavy-hitter. He is always on the look out to lay out the ball carrier. Gay ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine, second fastest behind only Isaiah Simmons. That speed is indisputable while watching his tape. His speed allows him to cover sideline to sideline. He does a good job to body, wrap up and bring down ball carriers with decent efficiency. Active eyes helped to be successful in stopping attempted screens last year. He does a good job in man-to-man against tight ends and slower running backs. Gay also does an excellent job to shed weaker blockers and his quick burst allows him to maintain pursuit of the ball carrier. He has excellent acceleration which could mean he could be used in blitz packages at the next level. As stated earlier, Gay is always looking for a big hit, if he gets you in his sights, watch out:

Weakness

One of Gay’s more glaring issues with his play is the inability to make quick decisions. He often allows O-lineman making climbing blocks to beat him to the lane and mitigate his impact in the play. He can be slow to pull the trigger which alludes to slow diagnosis time. Gay can often get out of control with his body. He has a lot of wasted movement in his game and often take too many steps. Those unnecessary steps sets him up to get beat in open field tackle attempts.

Gay being slightly undersized means he’s most likely not a viable option to cover the George Kittle or Travis Kelce’s of the world. He can be seen several times taking poor routes to the ball carrier. That penchant for laying the big hit can haunt him at times. Gay is often too high on his tackles allowing the ball carrier to shake him if he doesn’t wrap up in time. Gay also had some issues off the field last year as well. He was suspended for eight games after being found guilty of academic misconduct involving a former tutor. He also went on record to contradict his head coach about why he missed preseason workouts.

Final Thoughts

There is no such thing as the perfect prospect. Even those taken in the first-round have some form of project in them. While Gay would be a little more of project than one might hope in a potential third-rounder, his upside is too great to pass up on. His off the field issues shouldn’t alter his draft stock too much but it will play some factor. The hard-hitting, former teammate of Johnathan Abram, would be a solid pick-up for the Raiders who could be a solid rotation piece in blitz and nickel packages.

With two heavy hitters in the second and third level for the Raiders, it could be a start to their Silver and Black Legion of Boom.

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