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Toe injury has draft status of Missouri's Shane Ray up in air

Missouri edge rusher Shane Ray is dealing with a foot injury similar to turf toe, but at least one orthopedic surgeon believes the injury will not require surgery.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Ray saw a foot specialist, Dr. Aakash Shah in Kansas City, on Thursday and that the doctor's recommendation was that surgery wasn't necessary.

A week away from the start of the NFL Draft, timing of the injury news couldn't be worse for Ray. According to NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein, some teams believe surgery is required, which would sideline him for three to five months. In turn, that could threaten his status as a first-round pick, Zierlein says.

Other teams share Dr. Shah's opinion, believing Ray just needs rest. If that's the case, he would likely be available for post-draft OTAs.

Before the news of the injury leaked this week, Ray was viewed as a first-round lock and likley top-10 pick. With the uncertainty surrounding his status, that is no longer the case.

Ray (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) suffered the injury in Mizzou's Citrus Bowl win over Minnesota on Jan. 1, and it kept him from participating in drills at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Ray was able to perform on Mizzou's pro day March 19, to mixed results. One team had an issue with the injury during Ray's pre-draft visit; the team felt he was not progressing in his recovery and that the injury needed further testing.

Ray's injury further clouds the edge rusher group; he is the second member of the top tier with a question mark entering the draft. The other is Nebraska's Randy Gregory, who tested positive for marijuana at the combine. The top tier also includes Florida's Dante Fowler, Jr., and Clemson's Vic Beasley.

Teams picking in the top 10 that likely would be interested in an edge rusher are Jacksonville at No. 3, Washington at No. 5, the New York Jets at No. 6, Chicago at No. 7 and Atlanta at No. 8.

The situations with Gregory and Ray potentially could benefit Kentucky's Bud Dupree the most; he seems the most likely edge rusher to move up if a team drops Gregory and/or Ray on its draft board. Virginia's Eli Harold also could be a beneficiary.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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