Raiders 2020 Draft Prospect Profile
Name: Willie Gay
School: Mississippi State University
Weight: 240 pounds
Gay’s combine performance did nothing but confirm what most knew. The former Bulldog linebacker can flat fly. Without hesitation, he accelerates in any direction, with no gather or false step. That is to say, Gay screams toward the ball immediately and does not look like he’s lumbering in the play direction. Instead, Gay bolts toward the play. Better yet, he shoots the gap and destroys the play based on pure burst.
In space, Gay displays a natural flow to zone and man. He looks natural in the open and does not panic when tasked to trail an opponent. Additionally, he opens his hips in either direction, allowing him a free range of movement and motion regardless of play.
When teams would attempt to cut him, the block balance helps him stay upright and in the play. In addition, with his arm sweep, Gay avoids block with a shoulder dip in one motion.
This trait, in regards to Gay, is intriguing. He flashes the ability of a lights-out hitter. Plus, his quick hands forces fumbles. Yet, you’re left with the want to see him apply these gifts on a more consistent basis. Physically, Gay profiles as a three-down NFL linebacker in this trait. With extremely hard coaching, he will need to polish this tool.
From the moment the Raiders signed Vontaze Burfict, Richie Incognito, and traded for Antonio Brown, any discussions on character should evaporate. Mike Mayock once stated that ” you can’t have all boy scouts”. On the field, Gay fills a desperate need. He brings upper-echelon athleticism to the field. Versatile enough to play all three spots, Gay gives the Raiders much-needed depth, combined with upside.
For the price of a Day Three pick, probably a fourth-rounder, the Las Vegas Raiders can bolster the weakest linebacking core in the conference. Plus, with the explosion of athletic talent within the AFC West, the Raiders need to keep up. If drafted, Gay profiles as the fourth linebacker on the depth chart. However, with strict mentoring, he will find his way onto the field.
During his career in Starkville, Gay ran afoul of coaches on multiple occasions. The coaching staff suspended him for academic fraud. Following that, Gay and quarterback Garrett Shrader engaged in a fistfight, Shrader emerged with a fractured orbital bone and Gay found himself sitting for a stretch. Also, in 2018, officials in the Egg Bowl ejected Gay for fighting. Without a doubt, Gay needs to mature.