The Giants, undeniably, could use a pass rushing defensive end. As we continue our 'Nine for the Giants at No. 9' series, let's look at a player who could be available and who could fill that void. Let's talk about Missouri defensive end Shane Ray.
The case for Ray
Where have all the Giants' great pass-rushing defensive ends gone? When the Giants were good, which wasn't so long ago, they were stocked with more pass-rushing defensive ends than they knew what to do with. Now? Not so much. Sure, they have Jason Pierre-Paul. Maybe, though, for only one more year. After Pierre-Paul? Robert Ayers had a nice 2014 season, but a middling career with the Denver Broncos before that. Plus, he is coming off a late-season torn pectoral muscle that interrupted his offseason training. George Selvie is a solid veteran player and excellent run stopper, but not a dominant pass rusher. Damontre Moore is still more athlete than football player, and entering his third season is still trying to earn the trust of the coaching staff. Kerry Wynn flashed late last season, but nobody knows for sure what kind of player he could be.
From George Young to Ernie Accorsi to Jerry Reese, defensive end has always been a position the Giants valued above all others defensively, and right now that looks like a shelf in desperate need of re-stocking. Enter Ray. When the Giants pick at No. 9, Ray could easily be the top-rated 4-3 defensive end -- and the top-rated player -- on the Giants' draft board. Some will argue for Randy Gregory if he is available here. Aside from his off-the-field flags, Gregory also seems like a skinny toothpick at a spot where the Giants like to put a brick in their foundation. Most analysts think Gregory is a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, not a 4-3 defensive end. Ray, while only 245 pounds, is seen as a player who could add 20 or more pounds and be an every-down player.
Dane Brugler of CBS says in his 2015 NFL Draft Guide that Ray "has the best first-step quickness in the draft class" and is a potential Pro Bowl player. The Giants could use a defensive end with those skills.
The case against Ray
Measurables are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to draft prospect, but if you follow the Giants you know they are an important part of the equation for Jerry Reese and Co. They have always liked defensive ends who flash freakish athleticism or who fit their physical profile, 6-foot-5, long arms, enough size to anchor vs. the run, explosive speed off the edge. Look at Ray's spider chart. He doesn't match the physical profile for what the Giants have always valued in their defensive ends
For comparison's sake, here is Jason Pierre-Paul's spider chart:
And Damontre Moore's:
One more for good measure. Mathias Kiwanuka:
Maybe the ex-Giant Ray most closely resembles is Justin Tuck, except that Tuck was 6-5 and nearly 260 pounds coming out of college. And the Giants drafted the former Notre Dame star in the third round, not in the top half of the first. Watch these GIFs and tell me the Tuck comparison isn't valid. Somewhat like Tuck, Ray seems to be more of an effort player, a guy who never gives up, will fight to make a play and will chase down a quarterback or runner from the back side more than a physically dominant pass rusher who just blows blockers away. Those are good traits, obviously. Are they good enough to make Ray the ninth overall pick in the upcoming draft? If he were just a little bit bigger he would seem like a perfect fit. For the Giants to select him ninth overall, however, they are going to need to be willing to deviate from their standard physical profile.