Over the offseason one of the few points of consensus by draft experts is that the Cardinals have a need for a pass rusher. Arguably two of the top talents are Randy Gregory of Nebraska and Shane Ray of Missouri. The Cardinals would be foolish to draft either one in the first round. Perhaps 'foolish' is the wrong word choice.
How about saying "the team will be taking a leap of faith." Why? Glad you asked.
Randy Gregory has a history of marijuana use. In January 2014 and April 2014 the University of Nebraska caught him smoking weed, which has been overlooked on past players in previous drafts.
But despite his comments of using much more in the past, Gregory was caught in a known drug test at the NFL combine. Even if he hadn't used the previous day it shows that it was testable. The NFL doesn't care about how much or when, just if you used or not.
Understand the argument of marijuana as a whole is irrelevant, because Gregory himself admitted that he used it as a coping mechanism for stress. The problem isn't smoking weed, it's how he handles pressure. What if he was abusing alcohol? Would that make the problem better? No.
As it happens, Gregory will enter the NFL in the substance abuse program. If he commits a second infraction he will already be suspended for four games.
Add the fact that he is 6'5" about 235 lbs as an outside linebacker and he doesn't match up well in the NFL. The equivalent has been Dion Jordan of Miami Dolphins who was drafted 3rd overall in 2013, who has only 3 sacks, 46 tackles in his career.
It was just announced Tuesday Jordan is suspended for all of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's performance enhancing substance policy for a third time. He was found diluting a submitted sample. That doesn't mean Jordan and Gregory will make the same life choices. But it is most certainly a coincidence with no causation that I will still use to prove my point. You may now disregard this paragraph.
(Back to the real argument)
Now, look at this through the Cardinals' lens. The entire offseason has revolved around whether the Cardinals should forget about Daryl Washington, who was suspended for an entire season, ever playing for the team.
And while I know the reverse argument would be for Tyrann Matheiu working out. But his circumstances were completely different. Mathieu was a 1st round talent. Suspended in college for a whole year, who went to rehab, was drafted in the 3rd round, taken under the wing of Patrick Peterson and even moved in with his former/current teammate.
Criticisms of Gregory range from his size to his underlying issues. I'm not saying if the team has a chance they shouldn't take a shot on him. Only it should be where the risk is worthwhile not the first two rounds.
I am unsure if Ray's mistake is worse. The argument certainly could be made. While Gregory has admitted that his behavior was/is driven by underlying stress, Ray's could really only be chalked up to poor decisions.
Put this into perspective. You are preparing for the biggest event. A company will choose to employ you and in return pay you millions of dollars and if wisely used, will set you up for a wealthy lifestyle till you die. Just a few days before said event you are pulled over and the stop reveals you are in possession of an illegal substance. Why would you ever put yourself in that situation?
Once again, the arguments for or against pot are pointless.
Shane Ray was not found high, nor have their been reports of marijuana found in his system. Yet if the weed was his, it is inconceivable why you would keep that on your possession at such an important time.
If the argument is that the weed could have been a friends then the argument still fails. If your friends understand how important this life event happens to be, why would they ever put you're potential livelihood at risk?
Or how about talking to your friends and acquaintances inform them of the situation and let them know smoking, holding, thinking of weed is not acceptable for the time being around you? The excuse, "I didn't think about it," doesn't get you a pass in the world.
These ideas aren't difficult, nor are they rude. Holding yourself and your friends accountable is called being a mature adult. Shane Ray has proven he isn't ready for that type of responsibility and that is exactly whatever NFL team is asking of their employees.
On top of the decision-making, mixed reports are filtering out that Ray has an injured foot that may or may not need surgery, which could mean he isn't even healthy come week 1.
How can a team take a chance when there are other players who can make an impact with less risk in the first round?
This is how NFL teams, Cardinals FO included, need to operate. Does the risk outweigh the potential reward at this draft pick? For Gregory and Ray, it's a tough argument for either to be drafted in the first round.