Eric Gray NFL Draft Prospect Profile and Scouting Report

Oklahoma Running Back Scouting Report for the 2023 NFL Draft

Name: Eric Gray

School: Oklahoma

Year: Senior

Position: Running back

Measurables: 5’9”, 210 lbs.

Stats: 

Courtesy of Sports-Reference.com

General Info:

Gray was a standout running back prospect during his high school career. He became the first player in state history to win the Tennessee Mr. Football award three times. He also set a state record with 138 career touchdowns during his time at Lausanne Collegiate School. Gray was rated as a four-star prospect in the 2019 class and earned 24 scholarship offers. He initially committed to play for Michigan, before flipping to his home state Tennessee over the likes of Alabama and LSU.

He spent the first two years of his college career at Tennessee, leading the Volunteers in all major rushing statistics as a sophomore. Following the recruiting scandal that engulfed Tennessee’s football program, Gray made the decision to enter the transfer portal, eventually landing at Oklahoma. He spent the 2021 season as the backup running back behind Kennedy Brooks, before taking on the starring role the following season. Gray finished the year with 1,366 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.  

Positional Skills:

Strengths

Gray’s biggest skill is the vision and patience he demonstrates as a runner. His experience works in his favor here and he clearly possesses an innate understanding of how to pace his runs in order to allow blocks to develop in front of him. He thrived on zone concepts, where he showed the ability to press the hole in order to influence linebackers before exploiting the cutback opportunities he had created.

Gray also possesses a good athletic profile. While he might not possess exceptional top speed, it is his work in short areas that really stands out. Gray has some of the lightest footwork you’ll find in a running back in this year’s class. His ability to quickly execute cuts and change direction allows him to slip through traffic and find daylight. This ability to create his own yardage is what every team is looking for at the running back position.

Another of Gray’s strengths is his production on passing downs. He was often used as a receiver at both Tennessee and Oklahoma and looked comfortable in the role. He could certainly improve as a route runner, but he has noticeably soft hands, logging just six drops on 107 career catchable targets. Once he gathers the ball, Gray is quick to transition upfield and he will routinely make defenders miss in space.

Weaknesses

The biggest weakness in Gray’s game is his lackluster play strength. Whilst he has decent size, he doesn’t seem capable of consistently breaking through tackles as a runner. Bigger defenders will generally take him down on first contact and he is almost entirely reliant on elusiveness to beat opponents in the open field. This lack of power will limit Gray’s ability to consistently generate tough yardage between the tackles and in short-yardage situations.

The other concern with Gray will be his age. Although he is just a fourth-year senior, he is still one of the oldest running backs in the class, turning 24 during his rookie season. While he doesn’t have a huge amount of tread on his tires with 648 career touches, there will inevitably be some worries on this front given the notoriously short shelf life of running backs in the modern NFL.

Fit with the Packers:

Gray feels like a great fit for what the Packers like to do offensively. His vision and quick-cutting ability make him a natural fit for their zone-heavy rushing scheme, but he also has plenty of experience running some of the gap scheme concepts that the Packers have been incorporating more heavily through recent years.

He has also shown himself to be a reliable option in the passing game, something that the Packers clearly place value on. With Aaron Jones likely in his final season with the Packers, investing in more talent at running back to secure the succession plan seems like a smart move. Having a reliable third option at the position would also be beneficial for 2023.

This is a very deep running back class and there is a good chance that the Packers could land a player like Gray on day three. For a player with legitimate starting potential, that represents a real bargain.

 

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Comments (12)

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HarryHodag's picture

March 02, 2023 at 07:49 am

Too short to take the NFL pounding.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 02, 2023 at 08:37 am

The same prototype as A. Jones. He's a hard runner, fast to the gaps.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

March 02, 2023 at 09:04 am

When it comes to RBs I think we look at one later in the draft. I do like a guy Joseph brought up in one of his "draft gem" articles. Titus Swen out of Wyoming. I watched a few Cowboys games this past college season and Swen is a beast who can also catch the ball.

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PackyCheese500's picture

March 02, 2023 at 09:30 am

With Jones staying, why do we need another RB?

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stockholder's picture

March 02, 2023 at 10:05 am

Because Williams left.
And the lions love him.
Praise Gute for that too.

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PackyCheese500's picture

March 02, 2023 at 10:39 am

Williams is a byproduct of the Lions' O-line

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 02, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Who fills A.Jones spot when he goes down?

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hesoder's picture

March 02, 2023 at 01:03 pm

Yes

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BirdDogUni's picture

March 02, 2023 at 02:20 pm

If the plan were to trade Aaron Jones at the trade deadline like Carolina did McCaffrey last year, it would make sense to draft at least one RB, even if Taylor and Goodson are good to go...

If Love does end up being our Starter at QB, we might ought to draft two RBs... If MaLF really wants to run the ball. (Not convinced he does though...)

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 04, 2023 at 01:51 pm

It is a passing League, now. They almost outlawed Fullbacks with the rule changes. No cut blocking, high/lows, crack backs etc. It is a different Game. Jaire was hit with PF penalties for just executing cross-body blocks on O linemen coming out to crush him.

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BirdDogUni's picture

March 06, 2023 at 09:38 pm

The more it becomes a passing league the more effective a good running game is, or hadn't you noticed?

Until they actually outlaw RBs and the running game, things will come back around.

I can't wait until a HC starts running a Rugby type scrum offense, since pushing has been legalized and is in vogue...

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Handsback's picture

March 06, 2023 at 09:03 pm

Gray is heavier than Jones, not sure about his pass blocking but he's a better pass catcher than Jones when he came into the league.
Green Bay will be picking a RB this year and this guy is a pretty good fit.

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