Cedric Gray’s Draft Profile | North Carolina, LB Scouting Report

Can North Carolina's Cedric Gray be the first LB taken off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft with his scouting report? He has the tools to be in consideration.

North Carolina LB Cedric Gray has been a riser throughout the 2024 NFL Draft process, but can he challenge for early-round capital when the draft comes around in April? To answer that question, let’s take a closer look at his scouting report.

Cedric Gray Draft Profile and Measurements

  • Height: 6’2 1/2″
  • Weight: 235 pounds
  • Position: Linebacker
  • School: North Carolina
  • Current Year: Senior

When he first joined the Tar Heels in 2020, Gray was an underrated four-star recruit with little fanfare. Through his first year, he functioned mainly as a special teams ace. But since then, he’s been one of the ACC’s most productive defenders.

Over the past three seasons and counting, Gray has accumulated massive numbers. Over that stretch, he has 340 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, eight sacks, five interceptions, 12 pass breakups, five forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries.

One of the most important measures of quality LB play is how active that LB is, and no one can question that aspect of Gray’s profile. He’s a producer in all phases, and he’s rising up the board as a 2024 NFL Draft prospect.

Cedric Gray Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Well-built LB prospect with great mass, density, and proportional length.
  • Has the long-strider explosiveness to throttle up and attack plays with prejudice.
  • Rangy second-level defender who effortlessly covers ground to the sideline.
  • Energetic lateral athlete who can quickly adjust gap and tackling leverage.
  • Shows off good patience on pin-and-pull runs and can scrape and sear his way to gaps.
  • Has the spatial IQ to slice through congested lanes laterally and track down runners.
  • Channels his momentum to drive through tackles while keeping form and pad level.
  • Tenacious, hard-charging defender whose presence on the field is never ambiguous.
  • Packs a punch at contact, hammering into blocks and preventing displacement.
  • Proactively uses his length to pry past blocks while avoiding blockers’ reach.
  • Has great instincts and eye discipline in coverage and can key in on QB intent.
  • Versatile coverage LB with great hip leveraging skills and flat awareness.
  • Has shown he can get depth and rise vertically to make plays on the ball.
  • Serves as a formidable blitzing threat with his long-strider speed through gaps.
  • Has flashed the ability to accentuate his burst with euro-steps on the attack.

Weaknesses

  • Might not have immediate first-step explosiveness when attacking downhill from depth.
  • Doesn’t quite have elite foot speed or twitch, slightly diluting his maximum ceiling.
  • Lacks elite play strength and can be late to deconstruct blocks at the line of scrimmage.
  • Sometimes sells out to interior gaps too early, sealing himself off to outside runs.
  • Footwork can be more consistent and less staggered when manning up from the slot.
  • Occasionally diverts too far upright when managing space in coverage, inhibiting fluidity.
  • Is sometimes a tick late to enter boundary pursuit on outside running plays.
  • On occasion, slips off of solo tackle attempts and can do a better job applying strength.

Current Draft Projection and Summary

On my 2024 NFL Draft board, Gray carries an early-round grade. Though not quite in the mix for LB1, he’s a top-75 prospect for me and could feasibly command top-50 interest from NFL teams in April. A Senior Bowl showing should only help his stock.

At around 6’2″, 235 pounds, Gray has an impressive frame and athletic makeup. He’s explosive and rangy, has good agility, and can levy his explosiveness, length, and red-hot motor into awesome power at the point of attack.

Gray’s attacking style maximizes his physical profile, but he’s not just a run-and-chase LB. Though his patience can improve at times, he has flashed the necessary discipline and spatial awareness to patrol gaps, track plays laterally, and swim through congestion to make tackles. On a related note, he’s one of the better tacklers in the class.

Going even further, Gray has exciting utility as a coverage defender and a pass-rushing threat. He’s nimble, instinctive with his hip leverage, and keen-eyed managing second-level zones, and his long-strider explosiveness allows him to sear through gaps and impact the QB.

KEEP READING: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board

Though he might not be elite in any one operational area, Gray has an exceptional profile across the board and should be able to function as a quality three-down LB with additional versatility and playmaking ability at the NFL level, and he’s a bringer of carnage with his unyielding physicality.

Draft with your friends today! PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator now supports multiple drafters during the same draft! Ensure your player rankings are up to date on the 2024 NFL Draft Big Board and you know what every NFL team needs before drafting.

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