Cedric Gray NFL Draft Prospect Profile and Scouting Report

North Carolina Linebacker Cedric Gray - 2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Name: Cedric Gray

School: University of North Carolina

Year: Senior

Position: Linebacker

Measurables: 6’1½“, 234 lbs.

Combine: ARM: 32 ½”. HAND: 9”. VERTICAL: 35 ½”. BROAD: 10’. BENCH: 17 Reps. 40-YD DASH: 4.64. 10-YD SPLIT: 1.59. 20-YD SHUTTLE: 2.67

Stats:

Courtesy of Sports-Reference.com

 

General Info:

“This is my passion; this is what I love. Even if I don't make it to the NFL, I want to coach, I want to be a trainer, I want to give back to young kids who want to go through this,” said Cedric Gray of his love for the game of football. He fell in love with the game playing with his brothers and his dad in the backyard, but he never dreamed his future playing field would be Kenan Memorial Stadium at UNC.

After moving to the Chapel Hill area, Gray was placed on the JV team as a freshman while many of his friends played Varsity. His talent was quickly recognized, however, and he became an effective two-way player for Ardrey Key High School. On top of his 131 tackles, Cedric finished his high school career with 2,467 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns, but it wasn’t until his senior year that he caught the attention of his dream school. The University of North Carolina offered him his first Division 1 scholarship offer to play linebacker during his senior year. Other teams would soon follow suit, but they were unable to match what the Tar Heels had to offer.

The beginning of his college career would start similarly to that of his high school career: he would realize that he was not at the top of the food chain. He says of his first practice, “It's the first time we were doing Inside Drill, probably the first or second day of full pads. The ball gets snapped, and I see two offensive linemen running at me. Not one, two of them, and they hit me and when I tell you they almost took me to the wall and put me on my behind. I had never gotten knocked back on my behind before since I got to Carolina. I got up and after that I was like, 'yeah, they ain't playin. They are not playing around.’”

However, just as in high school, Cedric’s talent and dedication to the sport soon brought him the success he was hoping for. He earned a starting spot as a sophomore in 2021 and earned First-team All-ACC honors in his junior and senior campaigns. He would finish his UNC career with 368 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 5 interceptions and 5 forced fumbles. Gray is expected to be selected near the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft.

 

Position Skills:

Strengths

Cedric possesses elite athleticism that makes him effective in coverage as well as downhill pursuit. His 40-yard dash is in the 70th percentile for his position, and his play speed is even faster than this.

He will bring three years of experience playing linebacker in a Power 5 conference. In each year he demonstrated physicality and a willingness to tackle. He is not afraid of contact and is a powerful tackler that will leave a ball carrier thinking twice.

Weaknesses

Play recognition will be an issue for Cedric in both the pass and run game. Though he has three years of experience, he struggled well into his senior season with play action fakes and other misdirection concepts.

His run fits are an issue even on plays with no misdirection. He is prone to taking aggressive angles, which leaves a cutback hole for opposing running backs.

As explosive as he is, his technique limits his run defense and pass rushing abilities. Far too often he runs into the chest of opposing linemen rather than using his hands to evade them.

 

Fit with the Packers:

As the dust clears from a hectic start to the offseason in Green Bay, middle linebacker has emerged as the biggest need.

My main concern with adding Cedric Gray is that he would seem to be more of a replacement for Quay Walker than a fitting pair. The Packers drafted Quay Walker in 2022 after De’Vondre Campbell’s All-Pro season in 2021, likely to be the long-term complement to Campbell. Campbell’s tenure in Green Bay ended earlier than expected, and the Packers are left without a Mike linebacker.

Being an off-ball linebacker himself, I would be surprised if Cedric Gray gets his long-awaited phone call from a 920 area code. However, Cedric’s RAS score of 8.04 is certainly within Brian Gutekunst’s range, and he seems to be a great character fit. Perhaps the team sees the lack of talent and depth in their linebacker room and views the position as “the more the merrier”. Whether or not they select the linebacker from UNC, you can all but guarantee the Packers will add to the room this April.

VIDEO:

 

__________________________

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR CHEESEHEAD NATION WEEKLY NEWSLETTER HERE.

__________________________

NFL Categories: 
3 points
 

Comments (28)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
LambeauPlain's picture

March 29, 2024 at 05:05 pm

Gray's love of football and his solid on field production is worth a day 3 look. He's steady and available, would start immediately on STs. For next season, McDuffie and Wilson have more to offer. But a good draft and develop prospect.

Would be nice to pair another game changing LB with Walker. Would love Wilson...but his past injury history is littered with many serious injuries. Edgerrin Cooper would be a nice day 2 selection.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Turophile's picture

March 29, 2024 at 10:24 pm

Junior Colson at 58 and Gray at 126 would fill out the ILB group nicely. It should be the best Packers ILB group for many years.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
murf7777's picture

March 30, 2024 at 09:53 am

Use the 2nd and 4th round pick for a non-premium position. I hope not, I suspect they might use the 4th, but I think you will see the DL/EDGE, and OL being more important to the Packers in the 1st two rounds. You get the dominate big guys and it makes everyone else better!! #buildthetrenches

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Turophile's picture

March 30, 2024 at 11:05 am

Once you get past round one, premium positions are relatively meaningless.

There are quite possibly 6xOTs, 5xCBs and 5 QBs and 6xWRs gone in round one. the best guys at those premium positions have been well picked over by round 2.

In fact you can make a case for the opposite of what you stated. The best inside linebacker and best safety available should be there for a while, in round 2.

Premium positions are what they are because the best players at those positions go early. after that, (almost) anything is fair game. Obviously I'm not thinking FB or K or long snapper, but ILB, IOL, S, slot corner, RB, TE, are all non-premium positions that are valid targets after round one or even late in round one.

In the Packers case, they need a couple of ILBs to go with Walker. They also need IOL, S, RB and slot corner, none of which are premium positions. Now, they may well take an OT or OT/G in round 1, or possibly a corner, which are premium positions, but after that all bets are off.

As for DL and Edge, they are not urgent needs, but might be addressed anywhere in the draft, early or late (look at what the Packers got out of Brooks and Enagbare as later picks).

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
golfpacker1's picture

March 30, 2024 at 02:23 pm

Murf, the Packers have a dump truck sized hole @ LB right now and barring a trade for one, the draft is the only option we have at this point. If we wait past #41, Gray and Wallace probably are the only 2 of the Top 5 left.

I would be happy with any of Colson, Cooper, or Wilson @ #41, but none of them are worth a first-round pick.

One negative thing about Gray is his missed tackle percentage, and it's been talked about. What isn't talked about is that Gray has made 365 tackles in the last 3 years, so he has the necessary talent. He just needs better coaching, and we just hired a hotshot LB coach that could do that. Gray will be picked in the 3rd round because the LB position group is weak.

Trevin Wallace-Kentucky and Nathaniel Watson-Mississippi State are 2 of the most interesting later round LBs in this draft. Watson has better stats than the Butkus Award winner, Payton Wilson.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
jannes bjornson's picture

March 30, 2024 at 11:43 am

Gray doesn't leave Rd Three and is probably better than the guys mentioned. He would be better as a cover guy. They dumped a #22 pick on Walker and he cannot man the middle?

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
SicSemperTyrannis's picture

March 31, 2024 at 09:45 am

I can't imagine Hafley getting too excited about this highlight reel. In #7 we have an elite athlete who sometimes misdiagnoses plays and gets fooled. Here we see Gray with much less speed, much less motor, and flat out running away from the play on occasion. He does seem to cover well though; maybe the hybrid LB/ S position? I don't know if Hafley values it.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
golfpacker1's picture

March 29, 2024 at 05:25 pm

Thank you very much for profiling a player at a position of great need that the Packers might actually select, as opposed to a WR that we don't even remotely need this year.

Gray had a strong college career against top flite competition and that's in his favor. He also really shined in the Senior Bowl practices and game. I don't know how many of his recognizable "weaknesses" showed up in Mobile against top competition, but he was widely praised for strong athletic play every day in the bowl recaps. With the crazy good receiving numbers he had in high school, you would expect him to never drop an INT. So that's a big plus for him.

Gray is probably our 5th choice for LB and is probably a fallback option, although a very good one. Someone posted on here that he has missed a lot of tackles, but he has also made a ton of them. Probably more than any of the other top 5 rated LBs. 365 in 3 years is a lot.

GBs failure to sign a FA LB to fill the gaping hole left by the Campbell cut, has forced our hand in the draft. We CAN NOT afford to wait past pick #41 to choose a LB! Period!! That way we still probably get to pick between Cooper, Colson, and Wilson. Guaranteed for Colson and Wilson, which I am fine with as Colson is my favorite and he is the most complete LB in the draft followed by Wilson. Cooper is the most explosive player just ahead of Wilson, but with less injury history. Cooper also has the least stats of the Top 3.

Nathaniel Watson is not a sleeper but is a very good LB from SEC country in Mississippi State. He isn't getting the attention so maybe we could also get him in the 5th to double up. His RAS isn't super impressive, but his play and numbers are.

I hope FA Devin White doesn't have a big year @ Philly so I don't have to say I told you so to everyone. He is a better version of Edggerin Cooper and I think we missed the boat by not signing him.

+ REPLY
1 points
3
2
TKWorldWide's picture

March 30, 2024 at 08:40 am

Didn’t Devin White kind of disappoint in TB? And did GB have the $4 mil to sign him? Or maybe the question should be: Did GB think he’s worth a $4 mil investment?

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
golfpacker1's picture

March 30, 2024 at 01:56 pm

Hey TK, 2023 was Whites worst year in the NFL. He kind of fell out of favor with the coaching staff and was even benched for 3 games. He still had 90 tackles last year and has over 500 for his 5 year career. He was a prime candidate to be a change of scenery is needed guy. At only 25 years old, he seemed like a young, still super talented LB, that the Packers could use to upgrade and fill a huge hole. Apparently, they didn't and are not worried about the position.

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
WD's picture

March 30, 2024 at 06:55 am

Packer Report just did an in depth scouting report on ILB Payton Wilson and believes Payton Wilson is hands down the best ILB in the draft. His medical history presents a caution flag and keeps him from being a top 10 draft. If he is there at 25 the Packers need to take him. He has also played edge and can essentially play any LB position. He is a little light at 232 Lbs but at 6'4 height he could put on more weight. Did I mention 4.43 speed? Let that sink in. I will be extremely dissapointed if the Packers do not use their first pick at 25 for Payton Wilson. No one has more upside than him and the potential gain far outweighs the potential loss. Even if we did not need LB help I would favor this pick. See Russel's in depth analysis on Packer Report. Hopefully Gute gives it a listen as well. By the way, according to the medical reports he has fully recovered from his injuries.

+ REPLY
-3 points
1
4
TKWorldWide's picture

March 30, 2024 at 08:42 am

This is a question that never goes away: is a player with previous injuries considered “injury prone”?

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Bitternotsour's picture

March 30, 2024 at 09:05 am

not until he's been injured in a green bay uniform and people crawl out of the woodwork to criticize the GM for drafting a "injury prone" player when they clearly should have drafted player X who they had in their 14th mock draft but Gutekunst wouldn't pick because of his ego...

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
Leatherhead's picture

March 30, 2024 at 09:27 am

There aren't a lot of guys here who are more cynical about the fans than I am, but you're definitely on the list.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
TKWorldWide's picture

March 30, 2024 at 10:55 am

Ha!
But, to me, there is no “right” answer re: injuries.
Isn’t the NFL made up of 2 types of players: those who’ve been injured, and those who are going to be?
Fair to say we all hate when injuries strike. It feels like it’s not really our “full/real” team out there sometimes. Furthermore, I think the “next man up” mentality is absolutely necessary while at the same time being one of the biggest lies in sports. Don’t believe me? How about this: every week, the teams get to bench ten players on the opposing roster. Might that affect the outcome? Would they have a hard time deciding on which ten? If “next man up” means no decrease in quality, then which ten shouldn’t matter. And we KNOW that’s not true.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Leatherhead's picture

March 30, 2024 at 11:51 am

Football is a rough game and injuries are a big part of it, and it diminishes the product that they're selling.

I don't like watching my starting DBs try to lay wood on a bigger RBs because I could lose him for the rest of the season, like we did with Alexander a while back. It's a long season, and you have to try to protect yourself. Linebackers? That's a different story. Tackling is the reason for their existence.

The object is to win enough games to win the division, and people who are out with injuries don't help you with that, and people who are playing with injuries aren't helping as much as they could. It's better to give up an extra couple of yards than it is to lose a starting DB, IMO.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
TKWorldWide's picture

March 30, 2024 at 12:29 pm

I look at this page and see both of us on it.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Bitternotsour's picture

March 30, 2024 at 04:08 pm

no matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up. - L. Tomlin

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
Coldworld's picture

March 30, 2024 at 10:03 am

Wilson has had hamstring, ACL and shoulder injuries among others, but those are the most notable. The question is whether any of those are linked and have rendered him prone to recurrence or, worse, degeneration.

None of us know, but you can be certain teams and their medical people will have pored over his records, spoken with his medical People and possibly examined him themselves on a visit.

Wilson could be completely off our board, downgraded in value, or regarded as just unlucky and a true legitimate target. We don’t and won’t know. However, unless he’s given a complete clear by the medical folks, I very much doubt that we would take him truly early.

If another team disagrees, then that’s their privilege , but he could fall like Darnell Washington last year where every team was concerned with his foot condition until he was a much lower draft capital investment.

We do not know and won’t know any of this. Wilson is therefore a complete wild card to us lay folk. I don’t draft him or push him for that reason. Yes I’d love him on paper, but if he won’t survive physically that’s just a waste of a pick.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
TKWorldWide's picture

March 30, 2024 at 10:56 am

All good points. Well done!

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
golfpacker1's picture

March 30, 2024 at 02:47 pm

Without the injury history, Wilson is a lock to be a first-round pick. There are no first round LBs this year, including Cooper, who is projected as the best LB this year. Wilson's first knee surgery was in high school and that starts the clock ticking on how long that knee will last. A shoulder injury is also very troubling for a LB. Junior Colson would be my first choice, he is almost as fast as Cooper and 100% more consistent performances.

GB has a huge hole @ LB partly because of their own decision not to sign a FA. But the Packers should not reach for one just because we have the need. Pick #41 is the earliest and the latest that GB should draft one. Past that pick could limit our choices to Gray and Wallace, the next 2 in the ratings. Gray would be an OK fallback if it came to that.

Jerimiah Trotter shouldn't even be on the Packers radar and is probably a 4th rounder at best.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
SicSemperTyrannis's picture

March 31, 2024 at 09:53 am

CW, this is the internet. That much good sense was outlawed years ago. Lol.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
golfpacker1's picture

March 30, 2024 at 02:07 pm

I have only seen 1 mock draft with a LB being selected in the first round, and it was Cooper to GB. Probably because we had him in for a visit. Great detective work there. There are no first round LBs in this draft and the whole group is pretty weak.

I honestly hope someone other than GB picks Cooper in the first round so that decision is gone. Colson and Wilson will still be on the board @ #41 and that's the latest GB should wait to fill the gaping LB hole they created by cutting Campbell.

Draft Colson @ #41, and double up with Nathaniel Watson-Mississippi State, in the 5th or 6th and the LB position group is almost back to being a strength again.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
gsd3's picture

March 31, 2024 at 06:00 am

I would not draft Wilson at 25 for the same reason I would not draft Mims there. Injury history. Factor in his age and he may be a one contract guy.
No dispute on his talent. If Colson - my favorite and Cooper are off the board, I would take him there and cross my fingers. Probably the most talented backer in the draft.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PeteK's picture

March 30, 2024 at 08:16 am

I just want a grinder that can read the play and meet the ball carrier in the hole. Mcduffie will be fine for us, he had 11 STFs in a part time role compared to Walker's 5.5. A very good ILB can be drafted in the second or third.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
TKWorldWide's picture

March 30, 2024 at 12:45 pm

Fred Warner was a 3rd. I gotta believe GB has a shot at a day 2 guy who can really make an impact. Ain’t gotta be a big name at this point. (Just not Oren Burks Jr.)

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
SicSemperTyrannis's picture

March 31, 2024 at 09:24 am

4.64 40 time, at 234#? I can't call that elite athleticism in the NFL. He may be a very good LB, but not by that metric. Is his agility eye popping?

There have been LBs lighter than that who hit like a ton of bricks, so it is possible.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
golfpacker1's picture

March 31, 2024 at 10:04 am

365 tackles in 3 years translates to being a pretty good LB. Before Bobby Wagner got signed I argued with someone who asked did Wagner get all those tackles because the other teams ran at him? No, it was because he is really good at making tackles. It looks like Gray is too, and with better coaching he won't miss as many either.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.