While the Atlanta Falcons were busy adding more talent to their current roster Thursday via free agency, college players like Missouri's Shane Ray were trying to further prove they belong on an NFL roster. His school's pro day couldn't come soon enough for Ray, who was looking forward to participating at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine but was medically exempted from on-field drills because of an injured foot.
"Speaking about my own personal talent and my work ethic, I feel like I'm the best outside linebacker/defensive end in this (draft) class," Ray said in February. "Now, I just have to wait until my pro day to prove it."
The stage was set Thursday for Ray to do his thing in front of NFL general managers, coaches, coordinators and scouts, hoping to elevate his draft stock before the franchise-altering event takes place in Chicago, April 30 - May 2. Among the drills Ray completed, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds. According to NFL Media's Mike Mayock, Ray is one of the top-five edge rushers in this year's draft class, joining Dante Fowler, Jr., Randy Gregory, Bud Dupree and Vic Beasley.
Defensive linemen and linebackers performed on-field workouts on Sunday at the 2015 Scouting Combine. Check out pictures from the fifth day in Indianapolis.
While Ray's 40-yard-dash time didn't match those of his fellow pass rushers, Beasley (4.53), Dupree (4.56), Fowler Jr. (4.60) and Gregory (4.64), Mayock is confident in what the Missouri star did in his three years on the field for the Tigers, including 120 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 19 sacks, five forced fumbles, one pass breakup and one touchdown.
During NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" Thursday, Mayock said NFL teams will likely discuss Ray's abilities as a 3-4 rush linebacker and/or a 4-3 Sam linebacker, having the athleticism to play on first down and staying on the field in later downs in sub packages.
"Teams are going to look really hard at him," Mayock said. "The bottom line is his tape is way better than his measurables. That's the most important thing."
According to the Mock Draft Monitor 6.0, Ray is picked to be the Falcons' top choice with their No. 8-overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Falcons safety William Moore, who also starred at Missouri, was recently asked about his thoughts on Ray as a pro prospect.
"He's the real-deal Holyfield," Moore said. "He's what you want coming out of college. He's young. He's raw. He has a lot of growing to do and you can see it. Whatever team gets him will develop him to a top guy in the league, early."