If Lerentee McCray had a bigger body of work, then he could have been a potential first-day selection in the NFL draft.
However, "potential" is a scary word, and McCray spent too much of his career with the Florida Gators on the shelf due to injury. He really came into his own during his senior season and showcased the type of talent that made him a highly touted recruit out of high school.
McCray has a strong 6'2", 250-pound frame and often uses his raw power to his advantage. His combination of size, power and speed makes him a guy with tons of upside at the next level.
Let's take a look at the best video highlights from McCray's career with the Gators.
The ultimate test of a balanced linebacker is if he can handle himself in both pass and run coverage. Some guys are best only against the rush, while others excel as blitzing pass-rushers. McCray has the ability to do a little of everything,
On this play, we see the Florida linebacker settle into a shallow zone and wait for the Tennessee QB to attempt a throw to the shallow crossing route.
McCray is patient in his drop, keeping his eyes on the quarterback and never completely stopping his movement as he anticipates the pass. He then has sure hands and looks upfield once he picks off the pass.
McCray has occasionally disappeared during games in his collegiate career. He will make an exceptional tackle in the backfield on one play and then not be heard from for another quarter.
However, plays like this show that he does have a motor and work ethic. McCray is initially beat on the quick swing pass out of the backfield. The RB has the sideline to work with, and McCray is on the ground after a submarine block from the left tackle.
But McCray's effort affords him the opportunity to get back in the action and track down the RB. Not only does he make the tackle, but he also forces a fumble in the process.
This is an example of the type of hustle play that you need to see out of a player if he is going to make it at the next level.
McCray is not smooth out of the gates. There is just a running back between him and the QB, but it appears McCray gets overexcited and stumbles as he engages the RB.
What is impressive is the way in which he quickly recovers from this blunder, regains his feet and still gets the sack. It is nice to see McCray not give up on the play and continue to pursue the QB.
This is just pure speed on the part of McCray.
He is coming from the wide side of the field as he makes the tackle on a Vanderbilt running back that is headed in the complete opposite direction. There is a clear gap in the middle of the offensive line that could have meant a big gain for Vandy, but McCray has the kind of closing speed that is required to excel in the SEC.
He is left unblocked because there should be no chance that he is able to get across the field in enough time to get to the RB. McCray had other plans in mind.
There were few highlights for the Florida Gators since they were embarrassed by the Louisville Cardinals in the Sugar Bowl.
However, McCray was at least able to showcase his raw power on this sack of QB Teddy Bridgewater. McCray dominates the right tackle, pushing him four to five yards into the backfield and ensuring that Bridgewater has absolutely no pocket to step into.
Once Bridgewater does attempt to shuffle forward, McCray sheds the lineman and makes the tackle on the QB.
The read-option attack is suddenly all the rage in the NFL, and linebackers need to be able to read and dissect the offensive style.
McCray has seen numerous read-option sets during his time with Florida, and this play is just one example of him properly reading the play and putting himself in position to shut it down. McCray patiently watches the exchange between the QB and RB, sees that no handoff will take place and begins his pursuit of the signal-caller.
McCray's speed allows him to quickly get into the backfield and make sure that no positive yardage is gained. He does not waste any momentum going in the wrong direction. He saves all his energy to make a beeline for the player who ends up with the ball.
This play may be the most impressive moment of McCray's collegiate career. First, he manages to get around the best offensive tackle in the draft in Luke Joeckel. He then tracks down one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country in Johnny Manziel.
McCray is able to bulldoze Joeckel and actually overpower him en route to the backfield. Once past Joeckel, he is able to catch a scrambling Manziel as he attempts to move the pocket laterally.
McCrary shows quick burst off the line of scrimmage and an amazing blend of power and athleticism.