Shane Ray said it would be "a dream" to be selected by the Jets and paired with former Missouri teammate Sheldon Richardson, whom he called "a big brother," on the defensive line. But he knows that his mistakes in recent days could cost him that dream.
"It would be something special if we were able to link up again and do something for that Jets defense," Ray said at an NFL Play 60 predraft event Wednesday morning. "But that's not in my control and hopefully I'm still considered as one of the guys that they are looking at."
But after Monday, his draft status has crumbled. That's when Ray was cited for possession of marijuana in Missouri, causing many teams who saw him as a top-10 pick in Thursday night's draft to reconsider.
"With the timing of what happened, of course [teams] would question my judgment," Ray said. "All I can try to do is assure the teams that I will grow from my mistake, I'll continue to try to make better decisions and I'll learn. The biggest and most important thing is that I have learned and I'll continue to move forward."
That may not be easy. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock said Ray, who has a toe injury that may or may not require surgery, already had two big questions entering this week. Add the marijuana citation and . . .
"It's kind of a three-strikes conversation," Mayock said. "He's 6-2 and a half, 245 [pounds], which already has teams nervous as far as where you play him on first down. He's got the potential foot injury, which is strike two. And now he just made a really bad decision the week before the biggest day of his life. You have to question the decision-making on top of it."
Ray said he spoke with all of the teams who had interest in him early in the draft, but he also heard from teams later in the first round in recent days. Those teams had kept their distance, thinking he would be out of their reach. Mayock said he does not think there is anything Ray could have told the general managers that would convince them to keep him on their board as a first-round pick.
Ray said he doesn't believe he needs to enroll in a drug program or other counseling. He said he also spoke with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week and was told to "not harp on" the incident and not allow it to determine who he is as a person.
"I won't allow a mistake that I made to define my character as a person," Ray said. "I want to continue to grow as a person and move on from this mistake and hopefully everyone else can as well."
Ray will remain in Chicago for the draft. He said he "earned" the right to participate in all of the events for the projected top picks and he'll take advantage of them. Including the media questions about his citation.
"I'm a man," he said. "I'm not going to run away from anything."
Even if teams find themselves running away from him.