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2015 NFL Draft: Ranking the edge rushers

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With the Cardinals putting together a nice haul in free agency, our attention moves to the 2015 NFL Draft and it starts with the Cardinals biggest need, the edge position.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals fanbase waits for the other shoe to drop on the Adrian Peterson front, but the reality is the most pressing need for the Arizona Cardinals is still an edge rusher.

The 2015 class of edge players has been called the best since the 2011 draft, where Von Miller, Aldon Smith, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn and Ryan Kerrigan were taken in the first 16 picks.

The need for a player that can bring pressure off the edge is never ending and the likelihood of the Arizona Cardinals finding the answer with the 24th pick in the NFL Draft is slim, but there are some intriguing prospects to know, as well as the chance that maybe, one of those players falls.

Note: We will look closely at some of these players as the NFL Draft process moves forward, likely not the very top guys though.

1. Vic Beasley, Clemson

Maybe the most complete player in the draft in terms of prospect upside and day one impact, Beasley is the edge player that everyone will want in the draft, and while my friend Justis Mosqueda sees DeMarcus Ware as Beasley's upside, I like him more as a Von Miller type athlete who can also rush the passer as well.

2. Alvin "Bud" Dupree, Kentucky

Maybe my favorite player in the draft, Dupree has his faults, he's basically playing without arms most of the game, but his athleticism is unfair.  He'll need to be brought along slowly, but if he gets with a coach who can teach him how to use his hands, and figure out some counter moves, he could be the best defensive player in this draft.

3. Randy Gregory, Nebraska

While I am concerned about Gregory's size, he has special length, athleticism, and bend to his game. Like Dupree, he's more athlete than football player, but he'd be the perfect complement to the Cardinals defense.

4. Preston Smith, Mississippi St

There is a lot to like about Preston Smith, but the first thing for me is his ability to be versatile.  He has the athleticism to play the 3-4 OLB in base defense, and can put his hand in the dirt and move to a 34 defensive end in pass rushing situations.  Smith may not be the linear athlete of Gregory, or the physical freak of Dupree, but he has the versatility and physicality to be a special player.

5. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA

One of my favorite players in this draft class, "Diggy" has the look of an underachiever who just needs the freedom to break out.  He has some medical concerns, but his athleticism, size, and untapped game -- they all intrigue me.

6. Dante Fowler Jr, Florida

One of the more interesting studies of this draft season, Fowler isn't the athlete Dupree or Diggy are, he doesn't have the versatility of Smith, and he doesn't have the outside play of Gregory and Beasley. But Fowler is the guy that I feel most comfortable with to draft and not have to worry about how he turns out, if that makes any sense.

7. Shane Ray, Missouri

I don't see Ray being an option for the Arizona Cardinals, as I do not see the athleticism to transform into a 3-4 outside linebacker, but I am wrong a lot, so maybe he can do it.

8. Eli Harold, Virginia

One of the better athletes in the class, Harold could be an intriguing option, but he has to learn to finish plays, especially as a pass rusher.

9. Danielle Hunter, LSU

One of those LSU players that has the ability, but never did it all at LSU.  Can he breakout in an NFL defense where he can pin his ears back more, use his athleticism and length, and learn how to rush the passer?

10. Nate Orchard, Utah

A star in his final year at Utah, Orchard did not put up the eye popping workout numbers that are expected out of an edge player, but he gets to the quarterback.  Can he do more than rush the passer?  Who knows, but if he can do that consistently in the NFL, the rest won't matter.

The Rest to Know:

Anthony Chickillo, Miami
Trey Flowers, Arkansas
Davis Tull, Tennessee Chattanooga
Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington
Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville