Despite a rocky beginning to his football career, in which the pass-rusher was cited for marijuana possession, saw his draft stock tumble and dealt with a toe injury that forced him to miss most of the Denver Broncos' offseason work, the linebacker is determined to rewrite the narrative for his rookie season.
"I don't see anything less than Defensive Rookie of the Year. I mean that's my goal," Ray told Around The NFL from the Rookie Symposium on Monday.
The No. 23 overall pick understands the reception some might have to that declaration, but he's not concerned.
"A lot of people might say that sounds cocky for you to say it right now, but I've always set high goals for myself, just like I did in college and that is something that I'm looking to prove, that I'm the best defensive rookie here," he said.
"I work with DeMarcus and Von every day," he said. "Some days I might work with Von on pass coverages, on reading receivers, how I'm supposed to play this receiver in this coverage. With DeMarcus, he might show me some hand stuff or pass rush stuff, like 'maybe you should try this.' With both of those guys, I kinda have the opportunity to look through their eyes on how they see things on the field and I just utilize that and add to my game."
Ray said the training staff has been cautious with his return from the nagging toe injury, but he's finally healthy.
"I felt the best I've felt the past six months, started practicing last week, getting full reps, didn't have any injury holding me down," he said.
As for the possession charge prior to the draft, Ray -- as he did after being selected by the Broncos -- dismissed it as an issue and said perhaps he could pass his lesson on to fellow rookies at this week's symposium.
"What happened to me, I feel like I can share my story and give somebody some insight on better decision making," he said. "Like I said, everybody makes mistakes, it was unfortunate that it happened to me, but I learned from it ... I got my life together."
With the legal incident behind him and the foot healthy, the pass-rusher can focus on the pursuit of his lofty goals.