clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2015 NFL Draft rankings: Top 10 edge rushers

New, comments

Ranking the top 10 edge rushers in this year's NFL Draft.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
1. Dante Fowler (Florida) | 6-foot-3, 261 pounds

This year’s crop of edge rushers is really hard to rank. There is not a single prospect who is polished in almost every aspect of the game. Fowler is my No. 1 guy because he combines his athleticism with the ability to play in both a 2- and 3-point stance. He’s still raw as a pass rusher – like almost everyone else in this class – but teams will love his violent nature and active hands. Fowler is a top-five pick if you ask me.

Projection: Top-5 pick (CBS Sports)
Grade: 7.0 (NFL.com)

2. Vic Beasley (Clemson) | 6-foot-3, 246 pounds

Beasley is an absolute freak of nature, physically. He’s extremely explosive with an elite first step and great bend around the edge. He saw time both standing up and with his hand in the dirt, but it’s likely that he’ll be targeted more by 3-4 defenses. Beasley’s biggest weakness is his inability to shed blocks. Benching 35 reps at the combine is a huge plus for him, but you rarely saw the raw strength on tape.

Projection: Top-5 pick (CBS Sports)
Grade: 6.6 (NFL.com)

That spider graph, though...

3. Randy Gregory (Nebraska) | 6-foot-5, 235 pounds

Gregory is an incredibly unpredictable talent, to say the least. On the plus side, teams will love his athleticism, length and quick-twitch movements. On the other hand, it amazes me how rail-thin Gregory is. He’s had plenty of time to add some weight to his frame, but isn’t quite there yet. The recent failed drug test will turn some teams off as well, but regardless, whoever takes a flier on him is going to get a very talented player.

Projection: Top-15 pick (CBS Sports)
Grade: 6.6 (NFL.com)

4. Alvin Dupree (Kentucky) | 6-foot-4, 269 pounds

If you ever want to punish yourself, go to Draft Breakdown and watch some tape on Dupree. He is really tough to watch at times, but his combine numbers are no joke. It’ll take a year or two for Dupree to get acclimated to the NFL, but a lot of teams are going to fall in love with his elite athleticism and violent nature on the field.

Projection: Top-20 pick (CBS Sports)
Grade: 6.1 (NFL.com)

5. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (UCLA) | 6-foot-3, 267 pounds

Good luck trying to pronounce this guy’s name. Odighizuwa is nothing like the guys above him on this list (aside from being a great athlete). Rather than winning with speed off the edge, he gets by with his brute strength and bull-rush technique. He’s undergone two surgeries on his hip, which can attribute to his stiffness around the edge, and it remains to be seen whether this will be a major issue for him down the road. I could see him playing the 5-technique in a 3-4 system or in a Jason Jones-type role with a 4-3 team.

Projection: 1st round (CBS Sports)
Grade: 5.7 (NFL.com)

6. Preston Smith (Mississippi State) | 6-foot-5, 271 pounds

After watching just one half of a Mississippi State football game, it became evident that Smith may be the most versatile defensive lineman in this draft. Within 20 plays, I saw Smith line up in the 0-tech, 3-tech, 5-tech and even 9-technique. He has the speed and flexibility to rush off the edge, as well as the strength to play almost anywhere inside.

Projection: 1st-2nd round (CBS Sports)
Grade: 5.7 (NFL.com)

7. Shane Ray (Missouri) | 6-foot-3, 245 pounds

I’m a bit lower on Ray than most. He’s a guy who will get you 10 sacks a year with only 20 pressures to go with it. He’s very hit or miss, but when he times the snap perfectly, he’s almost impossible to stop. Ray is a one-trick pony with an excellent speed rush and looks much more athletic on tape than his combine numbers will tell you.

Projection: Top-15 pick (CBS Sports)
Grade: 6.6 (NFL.com)

8. Eli Harold (Virginia) | 6-foot-3, 247 pounds

Harold has arguably one of the highest ceilings in this class. Conversely, he also has one of the lowest floors. He’s a true boom or bust player who will likely be limited to playing in a 3-4 scheme as a pass-rushing linebacker. He can be a terror off the edge with great burst off the line and very nice closing speed. Harold tends to get swallowed up versus the run, and I view him as a situational pass rusher at the next level.

Projection: 1st-2nd round (CBS Sports)
Grade: 5.9 (NFL.com)

9. Lorenzo Mauldin (Louisville) | 6-foot-4, 259 pounds

Mauldin is a below-average pass rusher, but probably the best run-stuffing defensive end in the draft. When his pass rush stalls, he does a really nice job of getting his hands up in the passing lanes, and he batted down eight passes in his career. He’s not an extraordinary athlete, but his story of working hard and overcoming a rough childhood is a big plus for his character.

Projection: 3rd-4th round (CBS Sports)
Grade: 5.6 (NFL.com)

10. Danielle Hunter (LSU) | 6-foot-5, 252 pounds

Hunter is another one of those raw but athletic prospects who teams will just have to be really patient with. His snap anticipation is very poor, and he was often the last player off the line of scrimmage. He does a nice job of using his hands, but still needs a lot of work on shedding blocks. His value is a lot higher than it should be right now, but I could still see him being a solid player down the road with the right coaching.

Projection: 2nd round (CBS Sports)
Grade: 5.6 (NFL.com)