NAME: Wyatt Ray
SCHOOL: Boston College
JERSEY: No. 11
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 250 lbs
Burst/Arc Speed – Too often the last defender off the ball. Will ease back slightly in his get-off to propel himself forward, further slowing his first step. Has better speed up the arc than teammate Zach Allen once he gets going, but is consistently off the ball later than his bookend. Issues occur from two and three-point stance. Long, quick strides can eat up distance between himself and opposing tackle, and when he times the snap up well in obvious rush situations, look out.
Bend/Flexibility – He plays with such a low pad level in the run game and as a pass rusher, yet struggles to turn the edge to the quarterback. It is possible that Ray may have good flexibility and just have no idea how to use it. Fires off the ball low and will engage tackles low, but can’t get hips and feet pointed to the pocket, negating the bend he may have. Will need to work on this heavily at the NFL level, currently struggles mightily to turn the corner and will need development to reach what may be an exciting ceiling.
Rush Moves – Converts speed to power very well, utilizes the long arm to set up other moves. Go-to moves are an attempted hump move to get back inside (Carl Lawson-style, hasn’t worked out great for him so far) and a long arm-to-cross chop that he killed Wake Forest with in the fourth quarter. Variety still needs to improve, but more than anything just has to employ a pass rush plan more consistently. When he does, he’s tough to stop.
Counters – Has to counter more readily than he currently does. Runs up the arc and can get taken deep behind the pocket because he doesn’t counter back inside. Tries to spin, but needs to set it up with speed first. When he works inside as a rusher, it is usually his primary directive off the snap, but he does recognize oversets at times and will abandon a speed rush for the more direct path to the pocket.
Run Defense – Plays with terrific knee bend and excellent hand usage to lock out blockers using full arm extension. Gets his hands inside and wins chest control, keeping his frame clean to shed blocks easier. Physical and even violent at times in his play demeanor, stunning blockers with his punch. Has faced a blocker or two that have overwhelmed him due to size/strength advantage, taking him for a mini-ride. Must do a better job keeping his outside arm free to detach from blocks and pursue the ball to the edge. Too often abandons the C-gap to work down inside, allowing runners to bounce late to his vacated space.
Mental Processing/Vision – Knows when to step down in unblocked situations, finds the football and takes on blockers with abandon. Still developing his vision as a rusher, but the flashes indicate he understands pass set flaws and can attack the weakness relentlessly.
Lateral Mobility – He’s not an elite athlete, but he’s a pretty good one. Seems to move well enough in space and fluidly change direction. Utilizes some jab steps as a pass rusher to soften the edge at times, showing quick enough feet to work by offensive tackles.
Tackling/Finishing – Has missed some tackles outside his frame this season, allowing runners to slip away that he should have brought down. Impactful tackler of the quarterback, tackles like he knows the damage he can inflict. Could target the football more as a rusher. In coverage has been overeager and needs to throttle down for sure stops in space.
Competitive Toughness – Extremely physical with a relentless motor. Won’t stop working in pursuit. Worked for three years behind Harold Landry and others waiting for his chance to start.
Athleticism/Size – Looks like a perfectly-sized modern defensive end with the flexibility and experience to stand up as well. Long arms and good build. Testing will be critical, clearly at least a good athlete, but how high is his ceiling? From a pass rush athleticism perspective (bend, flexibility, burst), tough to tell at times on tape.
BEST TRAIT – Arc Speed
WORST TRAIT – Counters
RED FLAGS – None
Wyatt Ray is quietly one of the more intriguing edge defenders in the upcoming class, and his Combine performance will do a lot to dictate his draft stock. On tape, Ray appears to be a raw but developing pass rusher who is athletic but not quite sure how to use his natural tools just yet. He’ll often beat offensive tackles up the arc with pure speed, but then sputter out, failing to get his hips and feet in line with the pocket to turn the corner.
Seven of Ray’s nine sacks came against Wake Forest (4) and Louisville (3). His first sack against Wake and first two against Louisville were unblocked, and his final sack against the Cardinals, the quarterback ran right into his lap.
But the other three sacks against Wake came in the fourth quarter and showed an impressive ensemble of hand usage and pass rush prowess that indicates there could be something here. Honestly, Ray’s 2018 tape reminds me of Kentucky edge defender Josh Allen’s 2017 tape as a pass rusher, which obviously took a major leap forward in his senior season. I’ll be watching Ray’s all-star appearances closely, hoping for some further insight into how well he might test at the Combine.
PROS: Ray is an ascending talent that has consistently found more production as he develops. Offers good length and plays with active hands. Has a second gear and illustrates enough closing burst to finish when he has a cleared path. Hand technique is developing and showcases a good amount of variety with how he can beat blocks and softens rush angles. Has some ability to play in space. Disciplined to stay in pass rush lanes and executes stunts with precise timing. Works hard to maintain his run fits and set the edge to funnel plays back inside.
CONS: Modest juice for a slightly undersized pass rusher. Needs to get stronger to hold up more consistently against the run and covert speed to power when rushing the passer. From vision and processing to working his hands and getting off the ball, everything needs to speed up. Needs to develop more nuance in terms of footwork, setting him his pass rush moves, stringing together moves. Does not consistently play through contact and can get stuck on blocks. Things need to happen quicker for him to continue to ascend and find production in the NFL.