Shane Ray rocketing up draft boards

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By Kevin Levine, 23 Sports

Monday, November 16-

Coming out of high school, Shane Ray was a three-star recruit and the No. 35 ranked defensive end in the 2011 recruiting class. Entering the 2014 season, Ray was not in CBS Sports top 100 NFL prospects and was outside the top ten defensive end prospects. Going into week 11 of the college football season, Ray was ranked as the No. 9 overall prospect and No. 2 ranked defensive end by CBS Sports.

On Nov. 13, NFL draft specialist Mel Kiper Jr. listed Ray as one of four prospects he thought had the potential to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. The three other players Kiper mentioned were Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory and USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams.

“You have the ‘freaks’, the defensive lineman that can get to the quarterback and wreak havoc in the pass-heavy NFL,” Kiper said on Sportcenter Thursday morning.

After sitting behind senior Michael Sam and junior Kony Ealy last season, Ray has seized his opportunity this season to rocket his value up draft boards. Along with senior Marcus Golden, Ray has made the Tigers’ defensive line one of the best in college football.

Of the 34 defensive ends ranked higher than Ray in his high school class, only last year’s number one overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney, was a higher ranked NFL prospect.

Even though Ray is relatively inexperienced, his speed and explosiveness off the line that have scouts drooling over his potential.

Part of the reason Ray has become so highly coveted as a prospect is due to the amount of growth he has shown since committing to Mizzou almost four years ago. When he first entered the program, Ray was 225 pounds and ran a 4.8 in the 40-yard dash. While he’s still developing his pass rush moves, Ray now stands at 240 pounds and has been clocked running a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, with reports that he has pushed his time into the 4.4 range.

In his first nine games this season, Ray surpassed 49er’s star Aldon Smith and former SEC Co-Defensive player of the year Michael Sam for most sacks in a single season by a Missouri player, recording his 11th and 12th against Kentucky on Nov. 1. Ray added to his record this past Saturday against Texas A&M, picking up his 13th sack of the season.

Ray is now one sack away from tying, and two sacks away from breaking the NCAA record of 14 sacks in a single season, which was set by former number one overall pick Mario Williams at North Carolina State in 2005.

Since the 1970 NFL merger, 13 Missouri players have been selected in the first round, however no Mizzou player has been drafted higher than Smith at No. 7 overall in the 2011 draft. If Ray is selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, he will become the first Missouri player ever to be taken with top pick in the draft.

If Ray continues to terrorize quarterbacks as he has so far this season, the three star recruit from just outside Kansas City will continue his incredible run up the draft board, potentially all the way up to No. 1.