After word started to leak a little earlier this week about the possibility of Missouri defensive end and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Shane Ray leaving the Tigers for the NFL, the star defensive player made the announcement official Wednesday. Ray will forgo his senior season at Missouri and enter the NFL Draft this spring.
Ray was a consensus All-American this season and his departure to the NFL comes as no surprise given his production and draft stock at the end of the 2014 season. In mid-November, Josh Norris of Rotoworld ranked Ray sixth among edge rushers behind players like Nebraska’s Randy Gregory and Baylor’s Shawn Oakman, although some believe Ray has become worthy of a top 10 pick. Missouri has a decent track record with sending defensive linemen through the NFL Draft. Under head coach Gary Pinkel, 10 of the 27 Mizzou players to be drafted have been defensive linemen. Last year’s draft saw Missouri send defensive ends Kony Ealy and Michael Sam through the draft.
Ray recorded 65 tackles this past season, including 47 solo tackles and a team-high 22.5 tackles for as loss. Among those tackles for a loss were a team-high 14.5 sacks. Together with the graduation of Markus Golden, Mizzou will lose its top two sack-producers heading into 2015.