Willie Gay Jr

Linebacker

Mississippi State

6'1"

243 lbs

SCOUTING GRADE

6.88

Games Evaluated: 2019 Vs: Louisville 2018 Vs: Alabama

Report By: Roy Countryman

Scouting Report

ATHLETICISM: 7.38

Q.A.B. / C.O.D.: 6.80
Flexibility: 7.00
Explosiveness: 8.00
Playing Speed: 8.50
Coordination: 6.50
Position Versatility: 7.50

Supremely athletic LB who has a ton of quick-twitch fibers in his build. He has excellent straight-line speed and he can chew up ground to RBs in the blink of an eye. Not only a straight line athlete he also has enough lateral agility to scrape across the formation and make plays to the edges of the formation He has the explosive striking ability and closing quickness to flash to a contact point. He is generally a balanced athlete except he can get off-balanced when asked to flip his hips in man coverage. He also is susceptible to cut blocks because he flies all around the field with a top-heavy frame. He has experience playing all three of the LB positions in a 4-3, but predominantly was the middle man.

PASS RUSH ABILITY: 6.15

Initial Quickness: 6.10
Rush with Leverage: 6.50
Pass Rush Moves: 5.50
Pressure Consistency: 6.50

Not a decorated pass rusher, but rather was adept at timing up his blitzes along the interior and off the edge from a slot position. He did show the ability to get under the pads of OL but was not able to do much after initiating contact. Did not have a wide variety of pass-rushing moves with exception of a dip move he used to duck OT's punches. He was better at getting home to the QB in 2018 (5 Sacks) than he was in 2019 (0 Sacks).

COVERAGE: 6.60

Pass Drops: 6.70
Coverage Awareness: 7.20
M/M Coverage: 5.50
Zone Coverage: 7.00

Got quality depth in zone drops, but he has a high backpedal that makes him get unbalanced until he can flip his hips. He displayed solid coverage instincts to gravitate in zones to disrupt throwing lanes. Was mostly kept out of man coverage on TEs and RBs due to the stiffness in his transitional skills.

AGAINST THE RUN: 7.46

Play with Leverage: 7.30
Stack and Shed: 7.50
Run at Him: 7.50
Runs Away: 7.50
Tackling/Hitting: 7.50

High-quality run defender due to his downhill mentality. Willing to take on blockers in the hole and has the strength to stack and shed. Is able to force plays back to pursuit when playing OLB, and will not give up backside rushing lanes. Sound tackler who is adept at bringing down ball carriers in space. At times though he leans on his athleticism too much and will take poor pursuit angles thinking he can out run his mistakes.

COMPETITIVENESS: 6.83

Toughness: 7.50
Production: 5.50
Consistency/Motor: 7.50

Tightly wound and driven LB with a throwback mentality. Had only marginal tackling production over a three-year span, and his biggest contribution to the Bulldogs defense was 5 sacks in 2018, 1 FF, and 3 INTs over the last two years. High revving motor who plays with intensity and effort. Effort was evident in one play in particular where he tracked down ball carrier against Louisville to FF from behind.

INTELLIGENCE: 7.00

Instincts: 6.80
Learn/Retain: 7.00
Concentration: 7.20

Good instincts in run defense and when asked to drop off in zone. He can recognize plays and processes where the flow of the play is going without much delay. Played all three positions in the 4-3 at Mississippi State, and was able to cycle through their responsibilities with ease due to his preparation.

STRENGTHS

Uber athletic LB, who has explosive quick twitch fibers in his game. Is able to fly downhill in run pursuit and separate ball from the ball carrier. Versatile 4-3 LB who has experience playing all three positions, and is adept when asked to drop into zone coverage. Uses his closing quickness and strength to be an impact run defender, while using his play recognition to get into throwing lanes on defense.

WEAKNESSES

Tightly wound straight-line athlete that can struggle to carry college-level players laterally, what will happen with NFL caliber weapons? Has a high backpedal that gets him off balance in coverage, and is not comfortable in playing man coverage on TEs and RBs due to his hip stiffness. At times leans too heavily on his athleticism to bail him out and will take bad pursuit angles to the ball. Has a number of off the field issues that will need to be vetted. Issues such as being suspended due to being a member of a cheating scandal. He also has some hot-head tendencies as he reportedly broke a teammate’s orbital bone in a practice field altercation. Was ejected or penalized from a number of games with head-hunting type hits.

BIG PICTURE

Willie Gay Jr. blew up the combine with a 4.46 40-time, 39.5" Vertical Jump, and 136.0" Broad Jump. Those numbers scream freak athlete, and he is, it is just he lacks the quality fluidity to match up with those athletic scores. That doesn't mean that teams will not be interested as he has the versatility to play any position in a 4-3 scheme. I can see teams such as the Jaguars, Saints, Bengals, Bills, and Falcons. His athletic profile reminds me of Leon Jacobs, but his hot-headed playing style reminds me of Vontaze Burfict when he came out of Arizona State.

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