Sep 7, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Western Carolina Catamounts running back Garry Lewis (25) gets tackled from behind by Virginia Tech Hokies defensive end James Gayle (99) during the first quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
As we continue to look ahead at former Virginia Tech players in the 2014 NFL Draft, we take a look at the draft stock of defensive end James Gayle. James Gayle seems likely to go in either the third or fourth round and Gayle could be the second Hokie off the board which will largely depend on where Logan Thomas and Antone Exum end up going. James Gayle is a well-rounded pass rusher that is an above-average run defender which isn’t too easy to find in a defensive end. So, what teams might end up taking James Gayle in the 2014 NFL Draft?
Dec 31, 2013; El Paso, TX, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive end James Gayle (99) during the game against the UCLA Bruins in the 2013 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. UCLA defeated Virginia Tech 42-12. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The Tennessee Titans have had some issues rushing the quarterback over the past few seasons and seem likely to look for a defensive end in one of the middle rounds of the draft. The Tians were tied for 21st in the NFL in sacks this past season and they only added the aging Shaun Phillips in free agency to fit at defensive end. James Gayle hasn’t been a special player but he has been consistent and that is type of solid pass rusher that the Titans could use in the middle rounds of the draft.
The Atlanta Falcons had the second-worst rush defense and was tied for 29th in the NFL in sacks so the Falcons have a major need for help on the defensive line. The Falcons did sign Tyson Jackson but Jackson is more fit for a 3-4 defense and could struggle shifting to a 4-3 defense. James Gayle would be able to provide a big upgrade all-around but especially on the rush defense while also having no adjustment to make in Atlanta’s 4-3 defense. Of course, the Falcons could end up taking a defensive end in the first two rounds but if they don’t, Gayle could be selected by the Falcons in the third or fourth round.
Oct 26, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive end James Gayle (99) runs onto the field before the game against the Duke Blue Devils at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
New York Giants
The New York Giants lost Justin Tuck in free agency and on top of that is the fact that the Giants were tied for 25th in the league in sacks. Robert Ayers is a solid player but the Giants have a hole opposite of Jason Pierre-Paul and James Gayle could fill that. Gayle would not have to have a major role immediately with Mathias Kiwanuka already there but the Giants could use a defensive end in a middle round like the former Hokie. James Gayle seems like a candidate to end up with the Giants.
This offseason has been rough for the Dallas Cowboys due to their cap issues which led them to cutting DeMarcus Ware and is why Anthony Spencer will also be gone in Dallas. The Cowboys were tied for 25th in sacks also last season while their rush defense was quite weak so Dallas could use all the help they can get. James Gayle could be an option in the third round, especially since the Cowboys have multiple defensive needs to address that will be based on value at the time. James Gayle could definitely end up with the Cowboys in this May’s NFL Draft.
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