NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The top projected pass rushers in the 2015 NFL Draft class began as a three-man race entering the recent scouting combine with Shane Ray, Dante Fowler Jr. and Randy Gregory leading the way. That was before Vic Beasley threw his name into the ring with the most impressive combine performance of the group.
Here's how each player measured in at the combine.
Shane Ray, Missouri:** 6'3", 245 pounds, 33.125" arms
Dante Fowler Jr., Florida: 6'3", 261 pounds, 33.75" arms
Randy Gregory, Nebraska: 6'5, 235 pounds, 34" arms
Vic Beasley, Clemson: 6'3", 246 pounds, 32.5" arms
Titans Online caught up with national draft analysts to get their choice for the top player at the position.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com:"I think Shane Ray is the best rusher of those guys. He has first-step quickness and burst. He plays with relentless energy and is a high-motor guy. The big thing is his size. You like to see pass rushers a little bigger, but I think he's really talented and natural rushing the quarterback off the edge."
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report.com:"I think it's Randy Gregory, I really do; when you put it all together – the size, the speed and the potential. He only played two years of Division I football and the sky is the limit for him still. He's still going to fill out his frame. I think you look at who he is now and you see he's already really good. Then you start to project who he can be in two to three years and he looks like Aldon Smith to me. If you can get that, I feel like everyone wants it."
Rob Rang, CBS Sports:"For me it's Randy Gregory. I love the upside. Because he's a junior college kid, most times that means there are a few extra questions. In terms of just on tape, his length and his burst are what I'm looking for as a 3-4 rush linebacker. To me he's Aldon Smith part two.
"It's a three-man debate. Randy Gregory in my opinion has the most upside because of his length and because of his burst. He can bend really well. He's the guy I think a few years from now could be the best in this class. Generally in the NFL, those are the guys who get drafted earliest.
"Dante Fowler is the best football player of the three, there's no question – he plays inside, he plays outside and he uses his hands well. He has everything you're looking for; he just doesn't have elite size. He's also going to be a top-five for top-10 pick.
"To me it's a Baskin Robbins, pick your flavor situation. If you're Tennessee and looking for an immediate impact type of guy, then Shane Ray or Fowler might be the guy you're looking for. If you're looking for something long term and you have the coaching staff in place, then Gregory could wind up being the best of the bunch."
Bryan Fischer, NFL.com:"I think it could be Dante Fowler. Just listening to the offensive linemen speak, all the SEC guys point to Fowler as the toughest guy they went against. In that league, given the depth and quality of the offensive linemen, that carries weight. You look at his ability, if he's going 100 percent all the time, I think he's easily the best guy on the edge and has the potential to be a top five pick in the draft.
With Gregory, I think you're buying into the projections. He has had success, but it's been limited in terms of his time at the top level of competition. I think the biggest question out of that group is Shane Ray, but he's not alone."
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports:"To me it's Dante Fowler. He has relentless energy. He's so explosive off the ball. He's still coming along with his hand use and being able to be more technically sound, but he's the most energetic and relentless pass rusher in this draft. That type of talent – what he can do in the backfield and what he can do to disrupt the quarterback – that's something you can win with.
I have some questions with the other guys, Shane Ray and Randy Gregory. I don't have quite as many questions with Fowler. For me, he's not only the top pass rusher in this year's draft, but he's a top-five pick as well."