Dallas Cowboys rookie defensive end Randy Gregory has a chip on his shoulder. And it doesn’t look like the second rounder is willing to wait until the regular season to show what he is capable of doing at the pro football level either.
In three preseason games, the 60th overall draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft has three sacks in three games. He is the only player on the squad to have multiple sacks (five other players registered one sack a piece).
Gregory, who turns 23 in November, gathered 65 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 13 games at Nebraska his sophomore year. During his final college season, he totaled 54 tackles and seven sacks in 10 games.
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The Dallas Cowboys hope the six-foot-five college star will continue his sack streak this regular season. Having said that, is it possible for Gregory to land 10 sacks or more in 2015?
As good as Gregory has looked in the preseason at right defensive end, new Cowboy Greg Hardy will return to the lineup after serving his four-game suspension.
Gregory won’t be alone this season. The pressure is ramped up by returning defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford (DT), Hardy, and outside linebacker Sean Lee, who had three tackles last Sunday against the Vikings.
The mix of pressure should give Gregory more opportunities to burst through the line to visit the quarterback.
The Cowboys will get a quick look at Gregory in the first quarter of the season, especially when they face off against offensive juggernauts in the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints.
If Gregory were to toss his name in the 10-sack arena, he’ll have to do more than soak in advice from legendary pass rushers Charles Haley and Leon Lett. Gregory will have to emulate some of the best in the business who made names for themselves by earning 10 sacks or more as rookies.
In 2002, rookie defensive end Julius Peppers totaled 35 tackles, five forced fumbles, one interception and 12 sacks for the Carolina Panthers. Like Gregory, Peppers was scouted as first-round talent and was selected second overall in 2002.
Next, is a player by the name of Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions. As a rookie in 2010, Suh registered 65 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, one interception, and 10 sacks his freshman year in the pros. Like Peppers in 2002, Suh was the second overall pick in 2010.
Finally, defensive end Aldon Smith made a huge splash his rookie year in 2011 with the San Francisco 49ers. After going seventh overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Smith was out to prove critics he was worth the high draft pick by earning 37 tackles, two forced fumbles, one recovered fumble, and 14 total sacks.
So there you have it — three high-profile names who made major career statements their rookie years. Can Randy Gregory put his name next to those NFL stars?
Though Gregory dropped to the second round in 2015, he was touted heavily as a top-10 talent prior to the draft. Falling in the NFL Draft is fuel for Gregory. So far, he’ll take the sacks where he can get them, even if it’s just preseason.
So, do you think Gregory can achieve 10 sacks in 2015, or is that a stretch for the rookie? Let’s hear it.