In a draft class absolutely loaded with talented edge-rushers, the Nebraska Cornhuskers' Randy Gregory and Clemson Tigers' Vic Beasley are among those considered elite prospects.
As the NFL predraft process played itself out, though, an interesting dichotomy developed between these two particular prospects.
Prior to the NFL combine last month, concerns lingered regarding Beasley's actual size, whereas Gregory spent the season as a consensus top-10 talent. Those roles were completely flipped once the two showed up in Indianapolis.
Beasley was listed at 235 pounds during his time with the Clemson Tigers. Questions continued to be asked whether or not the Georgia native actually played at a lower weight.
The defensive end dispelled any of those rumors when he weighed in at 246 pounds at the combine. Not only did Beasley show up much heavier than expected, he absolutely destroyed his workouts and left mouths agape with his athleticism and fluidity on the field. The added build clearly didn't affect his movement skills.
Gregory, on the other hand, scared some onlookers when he weighed in at only 235 pounds. The talented defender was listed at 240 pounds by Nebraska's official website, but a report from DraftInsider.net's Tony Pauline surfaced prior to the combine that stated Gregory only weighed 218 pounds at the start of his draft preparation.
These two might be similar in size, but they possess completely different body types. Gregory is a few inches taller, longer and leaner. Hence, concerns over his ability to maintain weight remains a pertinent part of his evaluation process.
Once their schools held pro days on the same afternoon, the obvious question was asked: "How much did each weigh?"
NFL.com's Bryan Fischer provided the answer for Gregory:
While adding three pounds doesn't seem like a lot, it's a step in the right direction for the defensive end. Gregory stated that he weighed 240 pounds prior to the combine, but said he suffered an illness that caused him to lose a few pounds.
Teams will be curious if the Nebraska product can consistently set the edge. If Gregory can play closer to 250 pounds rather than 235 pounds, it's far less of a concern.
Meanwhile, Pauline provided Beasley's official measurement once he stepped off the scales Thursday:
With Gregory adding some weight and Beasley maintaining his, everyone can move beyond that particular discussion to dissect the level of athletes and prospects they actually are.
Both were exceptional at the combine. Beasley came away the big winner with an absolutely outstanding effort, but Gregory's effort shouldn't have been overlooked. Gregory was fluid and nearly flawless during positional drills in Indianapolis.
Chuck Smith, who once played defensive end in the NFL and now trains Gregory, raved about the Nebraska product's effortless movement skills, via Fischer:
He can pretty much do any movement, at any position. He can move like a cornerback or safety with his hips and change of direction, he has the explosiveness of a linebacker and the toughness of a d-lineman. The whole focus has been on transitioning him to a 3-4 true outside linebacker who can rush and cover.
People don't realize this guy can cover. I would put him on any tight end in the NFL. He's the next level of hybrid. The guy I compare him most to is probably Clay Matthews, or, when he matures and develops in the league, a Cornelius Bennett. I believe he can even play in the 4-3 as a SAM and, if you need, he can put his hand down and rush. The future is bright for him.
Fischer, who was on hand at Nebraska's pro day, furnished a glimpse of Gregory effortlessly working through his 20-yard shuttle:
The defensive end didn't run anything at the combine other than his 40-yard dash. It's easy to criticize his 4.64-second time based on his weight at the time, but that stance would only undermine a good all-around effort by Gregory, who is clearly suited to play linebacker at the NFL level.
Beasley also continued his impressive run during the predraft process. The talented pass-rusher stood on his combine numbers to the surprise of none.
After all, the defensive lineman ran an official 4.53-second 40-yard dash, 6.91-second three-cone, 4.15-second short shuttle as well as a 41-inch vertical, 10'10" broad jump and 35 reps on bench press at the combine.
But NFL teams continued to salivate over the edge-rusher during Clemson's pro day.
Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner seemed to speak for many with his evaluation of Beasley, per the Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones:
These two aren't simply great athletes, though. Otherwise, they would receive the dreaded label of "workout warriors."
It's their combination of athleticism, upside and production that make Beasley and Gregory top prospects for this year's draft.
The Clemson product amassed an impressive 25 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss the past two seasons on his way to being named to numerous All-American teams. His tremendous first-step quickness and flexibility off the edge make him an ideal edge-rusher.
Gregory wasn't as productive, but he was used differently in Nebraska's defensive scheme. He wasn't asked to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback all the time. Yet in two seasons after transferring to the program from Arizona Western Community College, Gregory registered 29 tackles for loss with 17.5 sacks and 34 quarterback hurries.
The ability to rush the quarterback is more valuable than ever in the NFL. Six different defensive linemen possess the ability to be selected within the initial 10-12 picks.
Beasley and Gregory will be in consideration as the first two edge-rushers off the board after productive careers and exemplary workouts that highlighted their unique athletic gifts.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL draft for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.