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Willie Gay – 2020 IDP Outlook

STARKVILLE, MS – SEPTEMBER 21: Linebacker Willie Gay Jr. #6 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs runs the ball in for a touchdown in front of quarterback Sawyer Smith #12 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

Willie Gay was a four-star recruit out of the State of Mississippi. He chose to go to Mississippi State over offers from LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss and Alabama. He played in 11 games his freshman yeah, although he did not see the field much (he ended with 23 total tackles). He played in 12 games and ended with 48 total tackles (20 solo, 5.5 for a loss), five sacks, two interceptions, one touchdown, one pass deflection, and two recovered and one forced fumble (statistics courtesy of Sports Reference).

He only played in 5 games his Junior year, however, as he was suspended 8 games for academic dishonesty and an alleged fight. The Kansas City Chiefs must have seen enough on the field that they liked, and they must have faith that Willie is over his off-field issues, as they took him with the 63rd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Unless Willie comes in and takes training camp and the preseason by storm, which seems unlikely given the current NFL (and world) conditions, I have tempered expectations for how useful he will be this year in fantasy. He is raw, having only played in 28 college games, and the NFL is a different animal compared to college. It seems likely given the current Chiefs linebackers that Gay is poised to start this year at SAM or WILL with Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson starting at the other and the MIKE position. The Chiefs used a bunch of linebackers all over the place last year (their first in a 4-3 base after many years of a 3-4), but mainly played with two linebackers and an extra cornerback.

It remains to be seen where Gay will fit this year. I believe he will fill the role that Reggie Ragland and Darron Lee did last year–coming off the field most of the time when they went to two linebackers. I would not expect Gay to be anything more than a LB3 this year and even that appears lofty with what we know at this time.

Willie Gay – IDP Dynasty Outlook – Beyond 2020

Most of Willie Gay’s IDP value lies is within his future. He has tremendous speed and athletic ability, and he fits right into the modern NFL in that he is great in coverage. He can be a bit overenthusiastic and over-pursue on some plays, and he will need to work on diagnosing plays, but as he starts playing in the NFL and gets used to real life game speed, I suspect he will be able to adapt.

If Willie can show enough this year, the Chiefs may be fine letting Damien Wilson walk after the 2020 season when he is a free agent. With Willie’s speed and athletic ability, if he can get regular playing time as a starting MIKE or WILL linebacker, he has LB1 upside.

NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 30: Louisville Cardinals Wide Receiver Dez Fitzpatrick (7) rushes the ball as Mississippi State Bulldogs Linebacker Willie Gay Jr. (6) defends during the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Louisville Cardinals on December, 30, 2019, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN. (Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Willie Gay – Value

So far this offseason, Willie Gay has been in the second set of linebackers off the board in IDP drafts (behind Simmons, Murray and Queen in some order). This would likely put him in the third or fourth round of drafts this year. I know some league-mates have concerns over his off-field issues, but the Chiefs have had success in taking on other players with past issues that have not had them come up again (Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu).

I think he is a good value in the mid-to-late third round as his long term upside is high. He has potential as a coverage linebacker on a team that has a high-powered offense that opposing teams will need to throw to keep up with.

Let us know what you think about Willie Gay, as we have him currently as the #7 overall rookie IDP and #5 rookie linebacker in our FREE IDP Rookie Rankings. You can catch our IDP-Specific Live Stream Monday Nights @ 9:30 Eastern over on YouTube! You can also find me over on Twitter!

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