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Shane Ray Can Do It All As 3-4 Outside Linebacker

Used as a defensive end at Missouri, Shane Ray feels he has the capability to transition to an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense if needed.*

The Washington Redskins certainly have a precedent in successfully transitioning outstanding college defensive ends to outside linebackers in their 3-4 scheme.

Since 2009, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan – both All-American defensive ends in college – have combined for 78 sacks and four Pro Bowl appearances as outside linebackers.

So if the team happens to be looking for their next productive college pass rusher to transition over to outside linebacker when they pick fifth overall in April's NFL Draft, many believe Missouri's Shane Ray could fill that mold.

Ray – the 2014 SEC Defensive Player of the Year – said he's drawn interest from NFL teams wanting to use him at his natural position as a 4-3 defensive end, but most league inquiries have come from those wanting to see him make the switch to outside linebacker.

Ray said teams know what he can do as a pass rusher – he had 14 sacks a season ago – but his abilities in coverage and against the run make him even more attractive as a linebacker.

"Every team I've talked to that runs a 3-4 defense has actually pulled up my film, and they have film of me dropping into coverage and making open field tackles," Ray said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "Honestly, I think they're pretty pleased with what they see, and my confidence and my work ethic will show that any system I go into I can fit in. I'm able to do whatever the coach needs for me to do."

Check out these photos of Shane Ray, an aggressive and versatile defensive end out of the University of Missouri.

Ray – who has been projected as a Top-10 pick in virtually every expert's mock drafts – has impressed with his explosive athleticism off the edge. According to his draft prospect profile, Ray "has elite power for his size and explodes off the line like a coiled spring."

Ray said it has been important to match his natural talent with a passion for the game.

"I play with a lot of passion and a lot of energy," he said. "Throughout my career, my coaches moved me all around the defense. I've played over three techniques and beat guards, I've stood up and rushed from the middle, I've dropped into coverage and came back and covered guys coming out of the backfield. And I've just displayed my speed consistently, and what I can do as a 4-3 defensive end and outside linebacker."

Ray doesn't come without a few question marks, however.

A foot injury prevented him from working out at the combine last month, where he was unable to show off his speed in the 40-yard dash. He's expected to be at full strength, however, at Missouri's Pro Day March 19.

Some have also questioned whether Ray can pack on the weight to survive as an edge rusher in the NFL.

Ray – who stands about 6-foot-3 – said he weighed between 239 and 243 pounds during his final season at Missouri, but hopes to get up to about 250 pounds by his Pro Day.

To compare, Kerrigan – who notched a career-high 13.5 sacks in 2014 – typically weighs around 260 pounds throughout the season.

"Honestly, I have a high metabolism, so at school, it was really hard for me to put on good weight, and have a good schedule of eating," he said. "But as far as my training goes, my weight has been going up just fine, and I feel by at least my pro day I would be at least 250, if not more, if I continue to eat and work out the way I'm working."




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