Pre-draft scouting reports: What was said about Giants RB Eric Gray?
The New York Giants selected Oklahoma running back Eric Gray with the 172nd overall pick in Round 5 of the 2023 NFL draft.
The Giants are hoping they landed on an ascending player in Gray and hope he can be a major contributor to their offense for the next few seasons.
Here is what some experts had to say about Gray leading up to the draft.
NFL Draft Buzz
From NFL Draft Buzz:
Gray runs with violence; he’s capable of thrashing through tacklers, and Gray has the natural balance to withstand contact. A compact runner, he has a rare blend of balance, agility and instincts. He shows decent burst and straight-line speed to turn in big plays. He’s at his best working in space, showing the quickness and vision of a return specialist. His stop-start ability allows him to create initial separation.
Bowling-ball runner between the tackles. Flashes a burst in and out of the hole. Lowers his pads and delivers a blow into the chest of defenders. Falls forward on nearly every run due to lean. Short build makes it difficult for defenders to find among linemen. Good acceleration and straight-line speed. He shows suddenness off the line of scrimmage and accelerates quickly, and his top-end speed is among the best in this draft. He often thrived in the screen game, transitioning upfield quickly and showing a knack for following his blocks. Gray has the size and strength to pass protect.
As a receiver Gray really isn’t a guy who will create a lot of separation. He’s more of a cut blocker in pass protection as opposed to a guy who will stick his face in against the blitz, although that is a correctable flaw.
Pro Football Network
From Pro Football Network:
Strengths: Talented ball carrier coming off a career season. Explosive, displays a burst of speed through the hole, and gets a lot of momentum going. Quick-footed in a small area, loses little momentum cutting back against the grain, and runs with authority.
Keeps his feet moving and bounces off defenders to pick up positive yardage. Patient, displays vision, and slides off defenders. Consistently runs north/south. Quickly gets out into pass routes, adjusts to the errant throw, and makes the reception in stride. Gives effort blocking.
Weaknesses: Not a powerful short-yardage ball carrier. More of a downhill back than a perimeter runner. Cannot run to daylight.
Overall: Gray was consistently productive early in his Oklahoma career, then put together a tremendous campaign in 2022 as both a ball carrier and a pass catcher. He possesses the size, skill, and versatility to be a productive rotational back at the next level and could eventually develop into a starter.
The 33rd Team
From The 33rd Team:
Eric Gray is a solid, three-down back prospect with adequate tools and instincts. He is a tough, decisive runner who lacks juice when he hits the second level. He should be a mid to late-round pick who makes the roster as a rotational backup.
NFL Network's Lance Zierlein
Decisive, creative runner with the size and skill set for three-down consideration on the pro level. Gray won’t be a home run hitter in the open field, but his short-area burst and oily hips open access to the entire field, with cuts coming suddenly and at unpredictable angles. He’s a less powerful finisher than his size might indicate and needs to keep from spilling runs wide unnecessarily. He is a reliable threat out of the backfield with soft hands and a willingness to block. Gray has the potential to find work quickly as a three-down backup with future starter potential.
The Draft Network
From The Draft Network:
Gray is a slippery runner with good elusiveness. I like his ability to string together moves and the balance he illustrates through those cuts. Gray has impressive stop/start ability, lateral quickness, and the ability to take advantage of cut-back opportunities. He has proven to be a reliable receiving option with the ability to create for himself after the catch. His vision in the open field is outstanding and he has a natural feel for manipulating defenders and taking advantage of opportunities to be creative in space. Gray does well to balance his dynamic ability with being a disciplined runner. His ball security has been terrific over the last two seasons.
When it comes to concern, Gray doesn’t consistently impress when it comes to power and contact balance despite being a competitive runner. Gray leaves much to be desired in pass protection where his ability to process and then anchor are inconsistent. He has a narrow build and it’s unlikely that some of his top concerns are improvable when it comes to physicality and contact balance. Gray is a good athlete but doesn’t have top-end long speed to truly be labeled a home-run hitter.
Gray doesn’t profile as a lead back at the next level but has the makings of a quality No. 2 back that provides value as a runner and receiver.
The Athletic's Dane Brugler
A two-year starter at Oklahoma, Gray was the lead back in offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s up-tempo, RPO-based scheme. After teasing his talented skill set at Tennessee and first season at Oklahoma, he put together a career year as a senior, leading the Big 12 in rushing yards per carry (6.4) and ranking second in rushing yards per game (113.7). Gray is quick to gather, plant and burst with the explosive cutting skills to shake defenders and pick up chunk yardage (his 44 carries of 10-plus yards in 2022 ranked No. 7 in the FBS). Although he isn’t an inside grinder, he stays behind his pads with the low center of gravity and pacing that help him pinball off contact. Overall, Gray has only average speed and run power, but he is a balanced, agile runner with darting quickness and steady pass-catching skills. His play style is similar to Clyde Edwards-Helaire and he should be a productive change of pace/passing-down back in the NFL.