atljbo Posted April 20, 2015 Share Posted April 20, 2015 http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/draft/2015/04/16/shane-ray-defensive-end-jets-falcons-ravens/25860479/ Defensive end Shane Ray confident in his NFL potentialBaltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome were working out on adjacent treadmills last week when the conversation turned to Shane Ray, the reigning Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year."We both like him," Harbaugh said of the edge rusher who had 141/2 sacks and 221/2 tackles for losses last season with Missouri. "What jumps out first of all is his motor, right? This guy has an unbelievable motor."He's going to get plenty of NFL sacks just because he's going to keep coming relentlessly."With his explosive first step, Ray plays in a havoc-wreaking rage, making others feel his pain.That abandon is his way of repaying everything his mother, Sebrina Johnson, poured into him, pushing him toward football to escape an area of Kansas City, Mo., infested with gangs.Ray's all-out effort is his way of honoring his mom, his teammates and the cousin he revered, Justen Johnson, who was killed in 2007 at 22 when he fell prey to those streets."Before every game, I'd get on one knee and talk to Justen. In my heart, I'd ask, 'Watch over me,'" Ray told USA TODAY Sports. "His memory is something I still carry. I just try to play lights out."Ray wouldn't be around as a likely top-10 pick in the April 30-May 2 draft, he said, without Sebrina Johnson "doing such a great job of raising me, always keeping the right people around me."Missouri defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said, "Shane could have easily fallen into a gang lifestyle there."His mom did a fantastic job of being focused on what it was going to take to get them out alive. She was not only a very loving mother. She was a college basketball player, owned a restaurant, went through struggles. But she kept Shane focused."Ray's best friend will be in Chicago to celebrate his selection."I'm sure she'll be crying," Ray said. "I'm sure I'll be full of emotions when my name is called. My mom sacrificed so much, pushing me back into the sport."My hunger is to make her proud."Ray's father, Wendell, a Missouri linebacker from 1978 to 1980, was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the fifth round of the 1981 draft. Wendell's protracted absence in his son's life added more motivation."Shane wanted to come here and be better than his dad," Kuligowski said."He is the most competitive guy we've ever had here."What is facing a hulking left tackle after the odds Ray already beat?"It's hard not to root for the guy," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. "Studying Michael Sam and Kony Ealy last year, I thought Shane was the best playmaker on that defense."What he does best is his first-step quickness, the quickness of his hands to get off blocks and locate the ball. When he goes to attack, he has a strong closing burst. I would say it's Clemson's Vic Beasley then Shane Ray as having the most explosive first step in this draft."At 6-3 and 245 pounds, Ray set the Missouri record with 381/2 career sacks.Ray is an ideal fit for new coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets, who pick sixth, or fellow new coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons, who select eighth.Ray worked out for the Falcons on Tuesday. After getting a medical recheck on his sprained toe in Indianapolis on Friday, he'll visit the Jets on Sunday, hoping for a reunion with former teammate Sheldon Richardson."Playing again with my big brother, that would be insane," Ray said."One Mizzou defensive lineman on your team? That's something. Two? That's a definite problem."McShay notes Ray needs to develop better counter moves when his speed rush stalls out."Shane certainly looks better when he's going after the quarterback rather than dropping," Quinn said. "I love the attitude he plays with. You sense the toughness."He keeps battling to make plays when somebody else might back off. He doesn't quit."And he doesn't lack for confidence."I think I'm the best defensive end in this class, because I've continually gotten to the quarterback in the toughest conference," Ray said. "I just want to continue doing what I was able to do with 141/2 sacks." Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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