It's fair to say that Randy Gregory has not lived up to the expectations of a second-round pick for the Dallas Cowboys, but that doesn't mean the potential isn't there.
Gregory has played in 24 games since being drafted in 2015, none of which saw him as a starter. And while the young defensive end had some penalty troubles against the New Orleans Saints, there's a fair case to be made for him.
Yes, Gregory took three pretty devastating penalties against the high powered Saints offense (facemask, roughing the punter, offsides) each of which giving New Orleans a new set of downs. However, the 26-year-old beast has continued to show flashes of his collegiate days as a backup for Dallas, and they should look to develop those flashes into something real.
Completing film study of Saints-Cowboys & it’s clear Walt Anderson’s officiating crew did not have a good game. Missed several calls both ways. The biggest: calling Randy Gregory offsides on sack-fumble play when Gregory clearly was properly aligned. Not sure how that happens.— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) December 1, 2018
Gregory was suspended for the entire 2017 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Despite that, he's come back to have his most productive season yet with 14 total tackles, 8 QB hits, and 3 sacks in a backup role. Just imagine what the guy could do in a starting role if he's doing this after a year away from the game in such limited playing time.
Dallas was initially attracted to Gregory because of his all-around great play at Nebraska for two seasons.
In 23 games, the defensive end culminated 119 tackles, 26.5 TFL, 16.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. That's a sort of production that would do the Cowboys wonders if he could just get some quality playing time.
Rod Marinelli was asked the last time a defense he coached made a statement like Cowboys did vs. Saints. His answer: Super Bowl XXXVII. Buccaneers vs Raiders. "This type of defense that we have, the zone and speed, they're athletic, they don't get tired and they can run all day."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 1, 2018
Let's also not forget that Dallas owns the fifth ranked defense in yards allowed this season. Adding a dominant pass rusher - and overall productive player - to the starting lineup could put them over the top.
It's not like Gregory hasn't performed well enough to earn a spot, it's just that his off-field issues have stunted his development.
Let's see if Dallas gets him his opportunities.