“With the 182nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Cyrus Gray, running back, Texas A&M.”
Those words were music to my ears on that overcast Saturday evening in Kansas City. Veterans Jackie Battle and Thomas Jones were both on their way out at Arrowhead. The two of them were unrestricted free agents unlikely to be re-signed for the 2012 campaign. The Chiefs filled one of those vacancies when they acquired former Browns running back Peyton Hillis on March 14. Gray was subsequently drafted by GM Scott Pioli in the top half of the sixth-round. He may well have been the best value of any player in the Chiefs’ draft class having been projected to be taken between rounds three and four (NFL Draft Scout, Draft Countdown, ProFootballWeekly).
I really like the cut of this kid’s jib. Gray stands about 5’10 and he’s a cut 206 pounds. Cut might be misleading, he’s pretty “rocked up.” It makes him a tough runner who’s difficult to bring down with an arm tackle. He’s not a burner, but he has a 40 time that hovers right around the mid-4.4′s. He doesn’t possess the straight line speed of his teammate Jamaal Charles, but he won’t be caught from behind very often. The former Aggie can be electric in the open field. The things that really impress me about his game tape are his field vision, his decision-making, his patience in setting up his blocks, his forward lean and the angles he takes. Gray’s a smart runner with a style reminiscent of Priest Holmes.
Under a normal set of circumstances I’d expect Cyrus Gray, in year one, only to contribute on special teams. He’ll be the third or fourth running back on the Chiefs’ depth chart. Dexter McCluster is likely to be moved back to running back if fourth-round pick Devon Wylie can stay healthy. Wylie’s unproven, but could displace him in the receiver corps. Gray will need to make his mark on Special Teams to be active on a weekly basis. Given his track record at Texas A&M, it’s likely he’ll do just that. He amassed well over 2,000 kick return yards (two that went for touchdowns) during his collegiate career. I suspect that he’ll get an audition for that role between now and the end of training camp. Gray should see offensive opportunities. The Chiefs will want to bring their top two backs along slowly after coming off of injury in 2011. Charles suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the second game of the season. Hillis was nagged by a hamstring injury throughout the year that caused him to miss several games for Cleveland (*cough, cough* Madden Curse *cough*). I think the Chiefs draftee will find a place in the backfield rotation. It’s what he’ll do with those chances that will make the difference.
Cyrus Gray has a versatile offensive skillset. He’s an inside runner with the speed to bounce outside. Add that to capable pass-catching hands and you have a running back that can be beneficial to this offense in a number of ways. Gray’s the kind of weapon that can really hurt a tiring defense over the last 30 minutes of regulation. His highest yard per carry average came in either the third or fourth quarter of games in all three seasons at Texas A&M. If this football team is protecting a lead, expect to see him on the field.
After struggling with fumbles early in his career at A&M, he was able to shake his ball security issues. He fumbled only once in his last two seasons as an Aggie. That will give him an edge over McCluster, who has often put the ball on the ground in crucial game situations. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll bring to the table in his rookie season. If he can gain the trust of this coaching staff I truly believe he’ll make a sizeable contribution this year.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Cyrus Gray play, take a few minutes to watch this highlight video from his 2010 season. Viewer discretion is advised. The track that accompanies the video isn’t suitable for the workplace. Neither I nor Arrowhead Addict will be held liable for the potential decline in office productivity or reprimands up to, and including separation of employment. With that in mind, enjoy the show!