Dante Fowler: 2015 pass-rush class best since 2011 NFL Draft

CHICAGO -- Dante Fowler, Jr. hasn't been shy about calling himself the best pass rusher in the 2015 NFL Draft, and he did so again Wednesday at the NFL's Play 60 event.

But Fowler went a step further, comparing the top pass rushers in the 2015 draft class -- himself, Clemson's Vic Beasley, Missouri's Shane Ray, Kentucky's Bud Dupree and Nebraska's Randy Gregory -- with the pass-rushing crop of 2011.

"I feel like this will be the best defensive end class that's come out since Von Miller, Aldon Smith, and all those (2011) guys," Fowler said.

Fowler was referring to edge rushers, but that 2011 pass-rushing group also included the NFL's premier defensive player, J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, and Robert Quinn, who developed into one of the NFL's top pass rushers with the St. Louis Rams. That's an awful lot for the 2015 class to measure up to. Miller, Smith, Watt and Quinn have combined for 195 sacks in four seasons.

Fowler emphasized the depth of this year's edge rushers, going beyond the elite prospects to illustrate the greatness of this year's crop of pass rushers.

"There are a lot of good ones that don't even get mentioned," Fowler said, citing UCLA's Owamagbe Odighizua, Utah's Nate Orchard, and Mississippi State's Preston Smith, who are expected to be Day 2 picks.

As for Fowler, he is expected to be the first pass rusher drafted. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the No. 3 overall pick, called him Monday, and they aren't the only ones showing him late attention. Others include the Atlanta Falcons, who pick eighth; the Washington Redskins, who pick fifth; and the New York Jets, who pick sixth.

If this class is anything like the 2011 group, several teams could end up happy with a pass rusher.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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