Shane Ray could be tempting option for teams drafting in 20s

Once a top-10 lock, Missouri edge rusher Shane Ray might have cost himself some money this week when he was cited for marijuana possession just a few days before the 2015 NFL Draft.

On the flip side, it might wind up being a blessing for teams picking in the middle of the first round, who could have a shot at one of the top pass rushers in the draft.

"This is a timing issue. It's not the citation that took place that's the big problem, it's the timing of the week of the draft," NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "I think it does affect him, and he does slide. But once you start getting into the 20s, you're getting to the teams that are so close to winning a Super Bowl that a big-time edge rusher could be the one who pushes them over the top.

"I don't believe he'll slide all the way out of the first round -- I think he's going to be a very tempting option, if he does get there into the 20's, to go to a good football team."

Jeremiah had Ray going No. 8 overall to Atlanta in his latest mock draft, which was submitted several days before news of Ray's citation surfaced. While Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said the team is keeping the top prospect on its board after negative news, it's not hard to see Ray being a draft-night slider when the picks start to fly in Chicago.

"A citation this close to the draft brings decision-making into the game as people wonder where his head is going to be and will he make the right decisions going forward," NFL Media analyst Charles Davis said. "He's now a value pick (in the 20's)."

For his part, Ray has spoken with NFL owners and executives about his marijuana citation in an attempt to ensure that teams are comfortable with him as a person, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

Even before the citation, Ray might have been moving in the wrong direction in the draft because of a toe injury. Rapoport reported Tuesday on NFL Network's "Total Access," however, that Ray was cleared by a noted orthopedic surgeon in North Carolina, who said Ray would not need surgery.

Still, it seems likely that some franchise will be in prime position to land NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock's fifth-best edge rusher much later in the draft than expected and get a key contributor on defense.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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