The 2015 NFL Draft is absolutely loaded with pass rushers, serving as good news for teams like the Falcons, who are looking to cause all kinds of chaos against opposing quarterbacks in 2015. The talent-loaded draft class of sack specialists includes the names we've heard since the end of the college football season, Florida's Dante Fowler Jr., Missouri's Shane Ray, Nebraska's Randy Gregory and Clemson's Vic Beasley, each earning headlines throughout recent weeks.
Three days after all of the pro prospect workouts concluded at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. offered thoughts via conference call about who he likes as the best fit available for the Falcons with their No. 8-overall pick.
"It's more about who's going to be there, that's what it gets down to," Kiper said."(Oregon's Arik) Armstead would be kind of a wildcard, because he really fits more of a 3-4 as a defensive end in that scheme, but I would say a pass rusher, the best one at that point would be Ray or Gregory."
Ray, who earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors with 14 sacks last season, measured just under 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. He recorded 21 reps in the bench press test at the Combine and will complete all other drills at Missouri's pro day, stemming from a foot injury in his final game of the season. The defensive end said he has drawn interest from NFL teams who utilize both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, but mostly those running the 3-4, seeing him as a pass-rushing linebacker.
As for Gregory, aside from adding strength, Kiper says the former Nebraska star has all the makings of an outstanding pass rusher.
"He's a phenomenal athlete," Kiper said. "He's got the length, long arms, he's got a 6-foot-4-and-a-half, 6-foot-5 frame. Gregory could be spectacular in this league. He has to show that he can be durable as well, but he's the kind of kid that has enormous upside."
Footnote: Kiper also cited Beasley, who shined at the Combine, as a guy who may have a chance to get after the quarterback for the Falcons next season.