Terrell Suggs Revisited?
Just after the 2014 NFL draft concluded, attention among draftniks turned to forecasting the 2015 draft. High on draft boards was Nebraska's Randy Gregory, who was highly productive in his first campaign with the Huskers. In fact, the Detroit Free Press projected him as the top overall pick for 2015 in their first mock draft. They made sure to mention that he was not on the same level as 2014 top pick Jadeveon Clowney. Nevertheless, a defensive end that is taken first overall is going to draw those kind of comparisons. But for Husker fans, it's not another Clowney that we ought to be hoping for - it's Terrell Suggs.
In 2002,Terrell Suggs entered his junior year at Arizona State. He was coming off of a season in which he had 48 tackles, with 16 for losses including 10 sacks in 11 games. Gregory enters his junior season coming off a year in which he had 66 tackles, with 19 for losses including 10.5 sacks in 10 starts over 13 games. Suggs then set a single season NCAA record with 24 sacks and was a unanimous All-American, also winning the Lombardi trophy in 2002. That's a substantially better season than Clowney had this past year, as he managed just 3 sacks in a lackluster junior campaign.
Gregory has at least one added advantage. Gregory is 6'6" versus Suggs' 6'3" frame. Suggs had the advantage of being in his third year in Division I, whereas this will be only the second for Gregory. The Pac-10 was also a much more pass-happy league than the Big Ten will likely be for Gregory. Arizona State opened the 2002 season against ground-oriented Nebraska and Suggs failed to record a sack (though three other Sun Devils did).
It's not fair to place Suggs or Clowney-like expectations on Gregory. Nevertheless, his production so far make comparisons not entirely ludicrous either.