Another red flag could change the complexion of the draft.
Shane Ray, one of the top prospects in this week’s draft, was cited Monday morning for marijuana possession by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, according to multiple reports.
Considered early on to be a lock for the top 10, the Missouri pass rusher’s draft stock was already in question due to a turf toe injury that could require surgery. This latest incident almost ensures he falls out of the top 10, and perhaps out of the draft’s first round.
This incident could impact the Saints’ draft plans. It is widely assumed the team covets a pass rusher with the No. 13 pick in the draft, and Ray, if he had slipped, could have been a target at that position. It’s unlikely New Orleans would now gamble on Ray, but the ramifications could run deeper.
By falling out of the top half of the draft, another player has to move up to take his place, further diluting the draft pool for the Saints. It also could mean that New Orleans is left without an attractive pass rusher at that spot.
Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr. is lock to be gone before the Saints come on the clock, leaving Clemson’s Vic Beasley and Bud Dupree as the only “clean” pass rushers in the class worthy of the 13th pick. Before this incident, there was at least a chance the Saints would get a shot at Ray, Dupree or Beasley.
The odds of that happening are now slimmer. If one of those players does not fall, that means the Saints are either going to have to re-evaluate Randy Gregory, the Nebraska pass rusher who tested positive for marijuana at the combine, or look at players at other positions. If that’s the case, the Saints would then have to get their pass rusher with the 31st pick or one of their selections in ensuing rounds.
It’s a potentially inconvenient situation for a team that could have used a break in the draft.