Connect with us

Bears

The Other Guys: Danny Gray Draft Profile

NFL Draft Sleepers. As far as the eye can see. Learn some more about SMU WR Danny Gray in the fourth of multiple “The Other Guys” articles.

Danny Gray SMU NFL Draft
Photo: 247 Sports

“The Other Guys” is a series of articles focusing on sleeper candidates in the 2022 NFL Draft, and next up is SMU WR Danny Gray. These articles will focus on prospects projecting to go in the 4th round or later. If you like the graphics and stats outlined here, be sure to check out the entire On Tap Sports Net FREE 2022 NFL Draft Guide for yourself. It includes scouting reports on 300+ prospects, athletic testing, team profiles, trade calculators, advanced stats, and more!

WR – Danny Gray – SMU

Background

Danny Gray was born in Ruston, LA, but grew up in the South Dallas suburb of Lancaster. Playing both ways on the football field in high school, he saw snaps at WR and CB. Gray was named the conference MVP in his junior season and also received All-State honors. Additionally, Gray won the state title in track running the 100-meter and the 4×100 relay.

In the 2018 recruiting class, Gray was ranked as the No. 86 WR in the country. Although he committed to Missouri, he did not qualify for the scholarship due to academic issues. Because of his academic issues, Gray elected to attend Blinn Community College (where Cam Newton played JUCO). As a freshman at Blinn, Gray posted 15 receptions for a ridiculous 409 yards and six touchdowns. His rate stats leveled out in his sophomore year, posting 54 receptions for 877 yards and eight touchdowns.

As a three-star JUCO transfer, Gray received offers from Auburn, Florida State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, TCU, and eventually SMU. After initially committing to TCU, he flipped his commitment over to SMU. From 2020-2021 Gray played 18 games at SMU, averaging 4.5 receptions, 69.5 yards per game, and 15.3 yards per reception. He scored 15 touchdowns across those 18 games, and was named First-Team All-AAC in 2021. He missed multiple games at SMU over the past two years due to minor injuries.

Watching this breakaway speed only once would be a sin. Against a respectable Power 5 opponent, nonetheless.

Danny Gray Draft Profile

Gray has average height standing six feet tall, and weighed in at the combine slightly below average at 186 pounds. Although, he did weigh in at his pro day at 197 lbs. Arm length comes in slightly above average, as does hand size. The fun gets going with the speed metrics, where Danny Gray ran a 4.33 40-yard dash. His agility scores came in below average for the draft class, but his speed is no joke as evidenced by his college tape.

Gray understands how to tempo his route speeds to manipulate coverages and sell his intentions. He can eat up a cushion instantly and is a constant threat to stack defenders. After the catch, Gray quickly goes into YAC mode, looking like a punt return man with natural vision and easy movement. His twitch and explosive look better on film than his testing. This leads me to believe that he is a guy whose change of direction relates better in pads than in shorts.

Danny Gray NFL Draft Profile
Danny Gray NFL Draft Profile

Gray has a thin and wiry frame, which could become an issue against larger and more physical coverage. In college, Gray did not see much press coverage due to his high end speed. He struggled with drops at SMU, and will not break many tackles. His style of play is based on finesse, as he won’t be overly physical in his routes. As a run blocker, Gray is ready and willing but lacks the mass to be all that effective.

Getting YAC like it’s a punt return.

Stat Breakdown

At SMU, Gray lined up outside on 78% of his snaps, and in the slot on 22% of snaps. So he does have experience playing inside, but it is limited to a small sample size. From the slot, he saw 32 targets and brought in 24 catches (75%) for 285 yards (11.9 yards per reception). The large majority of those numbers happened in the 2020 season. In 2020, 37% of his pass snaps and 43% of his targets were in the slot. While in 2021, 10% of his pass snaps and 13.8% of his targets were in the slot.

In 2020, Danny Gray posted a drop rate of 8.3% (three drops on 36 catchable targets). More recently, in 2021 his drop rate spiked to 12.5% (seven drops on 56 catchable targets). Gray recorded 82 catches in his time at SMU for a catch rate of 66.7%. His average depth of target is on the lower end at 10.2. While Gray was an effective deep threat in the SMU offense, more of his targets came behind the line of scrimmage than most WRs.

Danny Gray Stats by Depth of Target
Danny Gray Stats by Depth of Target

Danny Gray saw heavy usage behind the line of scrimmage and on short routes. Gray was largely effective on catches behind the line of scrimmage, averaging 10.1 yards per catch versus the college WR average of 8.8 yards. That same trend extends to short targets and intermediate targets. Gray does show some contested catch ability to all levels of the field. However, his size and frame could limit his continued success in that area.

In the deep portion of the field, Danny Gray only saw an average target rate. While his deep stats were a little underwhelming in 2020, that changed in 2021. In his final year at SMU, he hauled in 47% of his deep targets (average = 36%). While he did drop three of his 15 deep targets, he also hauled in all four of his deep contested targets.

I am surprised to see how little Gray has done after the catch on deep passes. However, he has been excellent after the catch in the intermediate, short, and behind the line of scrimmage ranges. His punt return skills show through as a ball-carrier in space.

NFL Draft WR Stats
NFL Draft WR Stats

NFL Team Fits: Bears, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Packers, Raiders, Vikings

Projected Draft Round: 4th Round (per Dane Brugler)

Danny Gray Big Board Ranks
Via NFLMockDraftDatabase.com

Follow On Tap Sports Net on social media!

Sign up to receive awesome content like this right in your inbox, from On Tap Sports Net.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

I like spreadsheets and football. I aim to take an analytical approach to my football research while also realizing the physical nature of football and how that impacts the numbers. While my main focus is Chicago Bears, I also write about the NFL as a whole.

1 Comment
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
trackback
2 months ago

[…] time at SMU, Gray caught 82 passes with a meager 66.7% catch rate. Adding to that concern is that this problem only seems to be getting worse. In 2021 his drop rate increased from 8.3% to […]

Listen To Bears On Tap Podcast

BET WITH BETRIVERS ILLINOIS

Advertisement Beer and Bourbon Box 300x250

More in Bears