Shane Ray Loses Ground on Clemson's Vic Beasley at Missouri's Pro Day

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystMarch 19, 2015

Oct 18, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Shane Ray (56) rushes against the Florida Gators during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Missouri Tigers defeated the Florida Gators 42-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson's Vic Beasley set the bar too high. 

In a draft class absolutely loaded with talented pass-rushers, Beasley blew away the competition with an eye-popping workout at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. 

Every other edge player available in the 2015 NFL draft is now looking up to him and falling short of his athletic prowess. 

Missouri's Shane Ray still had an opportunity to test that barrier, though. 

A bulky ankle prevented Ray from fully participating at the combine due to doctor's orders. As such, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year had to wait until Thursday's pro day to impress NFL scouts and decision-makers. 

Ray was expected to wow onlookers, yet he didn't live up to Beasley's previously set standards. But it was nearly impossible to do so. 

After all, Ray still posted a strong overall workout. 

The defensive end didn't bench after deciding to stand on his 21 repetitions at the combine. He did everything else, though. 

Expectations continued to build once Ray attempted his first 40-yard dash. Some, such as ESPN's Josina Anderson, believed Ray could break into the 4.4-second range. 

ig: josinaanderson @JosinaAnderson

Also curious to see what type of 40 DE Shane Ray (Missouri) puts down based on what I'm reading. Should aim for a mid/low 4.4. #NFLCombine

The defender didn't quite live up to those lofty goals, but he didn't exactly disappoint either. 

The majority of reports claimed Ray ran somewhere between 4.5 and 4.6 seconds, according to The Sports Wire's Brandon Kiley: 

Brandon Kiley @BKSportsTalk

Shane Ray's 2nd 40. Most had him in the high 4.5's. #Mizzou https://t.co/AZKBUYMrkW

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Dave Matter reported the official time on the field was actually 4.64 seconds. 

Whether it was a high-4.5- or low-4.6-second effort, Ray would have finished among the top five edge-rushers at the combine.

Teams clearly aren't worried about Ray's speed. 

"He's not like other guys from Missouri that we've seen," an anonymous NFC outside linebackers coach told NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. "He's got serious speed to get over the top of tackles, and those other ends didn't have it. You just wish he was a little longer." 

The Missouri product's natural ability isn't in question. Everything revolves around whether or not he should be the first edge-rusher selected in this year's draft. There is certainly stiff competition for that title, starting with Beasley. 

2015 Predraft Workouts: Top Edge-Rushers
PlayerSchoolHeightWeight40-yard dashBenchVerticalBroad
Vic BeasleyClemson6'3"2464.533541"10'10"
Dante FowlerFlorida6'3"2614.601932.5"9'4"
Randy GregoryNebraska6'5"2354.642436.5"10'5"
Shane RayMissouri6'2.5"2494.642133"10'
NFL.com, Columbia Daily Tribune

Ray isn't a slouch, though.

Along with good explosive speed, the defensive end showed his ability to bend the edge during pro-day drills. 

Upfield quickness doesn't mean much if a pass-rusher can't shorten his path toward the quarterback.

Offensive tackles will simply ride defensive ends wide if they can't dip their shoulder, bend their knees or display enough core strength to really bore down on an opposing signal-caller. 

Ray displayed some of these qualities Thursday, courtesy of Kiley: 

Brandon Kiley @BKSportsTalk

Shane Ray hits the bags hard. #Mizzou https://t.co/EEFcP0053c

Brandon Kiley @BKSportsTalk

Shane Ray tennis ball drill 2.0. #Mizzou https://t.co/hu6KhqTtTR

His increased size at 249 pounds was also important to the defensive end, according to Matter: 

Dave Matter @Dave_Matter

Ray said his goal today was to show he's big enough - weighed in at 249 - to play in a 3-4 or 4-3

All of these things led Ray toward becoming a first-round selection. What it didn't do was confirm he's the draft's top edge player.

The Missouri product has generally been considered a top-10 talent throughout this process. Yet, he's not as athletic as Beasley. He's not as big or as versatile as Florida's Dante Fowler Jr., and he doesn't have the same length or natural ability to drop into space when compared to Nebraska's Randy Gregory. 

This is the competition Ray was up against entering his pro day. It was a good workout, but it wasn't a standout performance.

Predraft workouts are obviously only part of the evaluation process, but Ray tends to fall short in other areas, too, when compared to the other top prospects. 

During his three seasons in Columbia—only one of which he was a starter—Ray registered 120 tackles, 34 tackles for loss and 19 sacks. 

Over that same time, Beasley accumulated 99 tackles, 52.5 tackles for loss and 33 sacks. Beasley, who was recruited as a running back and went through multiple position changes in college, left Clemson as the school's all-time leading sack artist. 

When a prospect was more productive and a better all-around athlete, it's impossible to rank another higher. 

Beasley is the top edge-rusher in this year's class. Ray fell out of that conversation and might not even come off the board until after the first 10 picks. It's not an indictment of the Missouri product, though. It simply speaks to the strength of this year's class at that particular position. 

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL draft for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @brentsobleski


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.