LB Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi St.*

6’2” – 243 lbs. – 4.46

Recorded 23-2.0-1.0 as a backup linebacker and special-teams player in his freshman season, then followed that up with his best year, a sophomore campaign in which he posted a line of 48-5.5-5.0. Ended up getting suspended this past season and was limited to five games (28-3.5-0.0), then decided to declare for the draft. Pretty well-built linebacker who played both inside and outside for the Bulldogs, should be big enough for either role at the pro level.

Calling card is his elite athleticism, which carried over from his workouts into his game tape. Looks smooth and explosive when playing downhill; also reads keys quickly and plays with a pretty aggressive, frentic on-field temperament. Does a pretty good job of keeping his shoulders square. Still refining his instincts and will get caught out of position more than than you’d like, committing to a course of action early and taking false steps against misdirection. That leads to some uncoordinated movements as he tries to recover his position. Flashes the ability to slip blockers, but doesn’t work through trash as quick as some of the other linebackers in the class, and needs to take some circuitous routes to the ball. Takes very inefficient angles in pursuit. Despite what looks like an adequate motor and high-end athleticism, didn’t actually record many tackles, but generates some pop on contact.

Capable of working both in coverage and as a blitzer on passing downs. At his best when he’s able to keep things in front of him and close on a spot; very well-suited to carrying running backs into the flats or spying/blitzing the passer, with the acceleration and speed to finish his rushes with sacks. Can rush off the edge or from the inside, although he doesn’t have much hand use to slip by blockers if he’s successfully engaged. Still developing his feel for and technique in coverage but has the raw athleticism to work against tight ends, and was frequently dropping into short zones as well, albeit with somewhat stilted footwork when dropping or backpedaling. Recorded three interceptions over the past two seasons.

A prospect who has all of the athleticism teams look for in a pro linebacker, but who struggles to play against the run at this point because of his raw instincts and struggles when working through congestion; already makes big plays, but his snap-to-snap consistency is lacking. If his character checks out, looks like he could come off the board around the mid-rounds as a boom-or-bust type project with a high ceiling as an every-down linebacker. Would be best in a scheme which protected him with big defensive linemen and simplified his assignments.

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