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Cedric Gray Has a Seek & Destroy Mentality | Commanders NFL Draft



Written By Adam Aniba


This years linebacker group lacks Top 33 talent, but certainly boasts some intriguing prospects outside of round one.


North Carolina WLB Cedric Gray has been consistent and productive, if nothing else over the the last three seasons recording over 350 tackles, 5 forced fumbles and 6 fumble recoveries.


Cedric Gray

6'1" 232 lbs | LB | UNC

Draft Proj Late 2nd Rd

Career (42 Games)- 368 TAK (198 solo), 29 TFL, 8.5 SACKS, 5 INTs, 13 PD, 1 FF, 5 FF & 5 FR

2023 (12 Games)- 121 TAK (64 solo), 11.0 TFL, 5 SACKS, 1 INT, 4 PD, 2 FF, 2 FR & 1 TD


Background

Cedric Gray grew up in Charlotte, NC and played football for Ardrey Kell High School. The Charlotte native played two-way football recording 130 career tackles, 4.5 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss and 3 interceptions on defense.


On offense Gray recorded 143 receptions for 2,467 yards and 27 touchdowns (4 seasons) playing multiple positions.


As a senior he helped lead Ardrey Kell to an 11-2 record and advance to the 2nd round of the state playoffs. On the season Gray recorded 70 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 6 tackles for a loss, 3 interceptions, 2 pass break-ups, 1 forced fumble and a 1 fumble recovery. On offense he registered 892 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns.


Gray was given a 4-star prospect rating by ESPN, in addition to being ranked as the 29th overall prospect in North Carolina.


The third-year team captain ultimately committed to play for North Carolina University for the 2020 season.

Gray appeared in all 12 games in 2020 as a true freshman playing on special teams and as a reserve linebacker, recording just 1 tackle.


In 2021 Gray was active in 13 games at weak-side linebacker and led the team with 100 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 2 interceptions.


Gray started 14 games in '22 and was named 2nd-Team All-American by PFF and Sporting News.


Subsequently Gray was named 1st-Team All-ACC by the Associated Press and the League.


On the season Gray recorded 145 tackles with 82 solo (ranked first among Power 5 players), 1 sack, 12 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions, 6 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.


The Tar Heels linebacker also recorded double-digit tackles in 6 games (career high). In the Holiday Bowl he registered 8 tackles, two 2 tackle for a loss, 1 pass breakup and a QB pressure.

As a senior Gray started all 12 games in 2023, recording 112 tackles (2nd in the ACC in tackles), 5 sacks, 11 tackles for a loss,7 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception and 4 pass breakups.


Gray was named 1st-Team All-ACC for the second consecutive season, along with being named a Butkus Award Semifinalist.


His highlight games came against Virginia (10/21) in which he recorded 18 tackles, 1.5 TFL and a QB pressure and vs NC State (11/25) 17 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 sack.


PROS

  • Non-stop motor and plays with a nasty streak

  • Extremely athletic with elite strength for his size

  • Flows to the ball in the run game with the ability to quickly disengage from blockers

  • Displays the ability to quickly diagnose run/pass showing impressive instincts pre-snap

  • In depth understanding of angles and excelled at sniffing out/eliminating screens


CONS

  • Needs to be more aggressive vs the run and show more decisiveness as a tackler

  • Doesn't offer much as an outside blitzer

  • Had issues at times covering quicker running backs in the pass game

  • Too upright and needs to get lower in his stance when flipping his hips in his drops

  • Should be limited to zone coverage early on, as he struggled in 1-on-1 situations with TEs and RBs at times


Outlook

Gray just Just ran a 4.64 forty yard dash during this weeks during NFL Combine and displayed the type of athleticism that should impress teams.


The linebacker boasts 11.3% body fat and benches 390 pounds per UNC strength coaches. He's a natural WLB, but a team could also opt to develop Gray into a MIKE linebacker based on his insticts and ability.


The Tar Heel linebacker had an extremely productive collegiate career and could be an even better pro if he puts it all together.


*GAMES WATCHED*

9/2/23 vs S.Carolina, 9/23 vs Pitt, 10/7 vs Syracuse, 10/14 vs Miami, 10/21 vs Virginia & 11/25 vs NC St.


**CLICK CARD BELOW FOR MORE SCOUTING REPORTS**




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