Recently, we got a good idea of who the best front-four defenders were by ranking the top interior defensive linemen in the NFL. However, outside of Aaron Donald, most of the elite pass rushers come from the edge rush position, so this ranking the top edge rushers will give us a good idea of which teams will be the most effective at pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
Before we start, let’s go over the metrics that we’ll use to evaluate these players.
- Pro Football Focus assigns players with a grade from -2 to 2 for each pass-rush snap, which paints a great picture of how effective a pass rusher they area. Their overall grade is known as their Pass-Rush Grade
- Pro Football Focus’ Run-Defense Grade accomplishes the same feat, but for rushing plays.
- Pass-Rush Productivity measures how productive an edge rusher is based on the pressures they accumulate, with a weight towards sacks.
- Run-Stop Rate is the percentage of times an edge rusher stops a run for a loss of yards- when they are able to “blow up” a rushing play.
Each player was assigned a percentile rank in these statistics, based on their mean production over the past two seasons, and with a slight weight towards the 2019 season. Then, their overall grade was compiled using the following formula, relying on the more stable metrics and making pass-rush production a high priority:
Without further adieu, it’s time to let the numbers tells us who the top 131 edge rushers are in the NFL.
#1: JJ Watt, Houston Texans (Overall Grade: 95.028)
It’s a shame that JJ Watt missed the final eight games of the regular season last year with a pectoral injury, as he was on pace for one of the best seasons in his career. Not only does he have the highest mean pass-rush grade over the past two seasons, but he’s also a grown as a run defender and had three games with double-digit pressures from this past season. He’s dealt with injuries in three of the past four seasons, yet the 31-year-old is still the dominant player he was in his prime.
#2: TJ Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers (Overall Grade: 94.3136)
Ironically, the Watt brothers take up both of the top spots on this list. In the first two seasons of his career, TJ Watt was a productive pass rusher, yet not a star. That definitely changed in his third season, however, as he earned a 91.7 pass-rush grade. His ability to take over a game (three games with 89.9+ overall grade and 90+ pass-rush grade) is extremely impressive, and now 25-years-old, I don’t see any reason why he won’t continue to produce at such a high level.
#3: Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns (Overall Grade: 91.8422)
Had it not been for his season-ending suspension due to his altercation with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, we’d be talking more about how dominant of a player Myles Garrett has become. The 24-year-old was already coming off of an 86.9 pass-rush grade season despite being limited to one pass rush move, and as expected, he was on his way to winning the Defensive Player of the Year award until the suspension- he earned a 91.6 pass-rush grade and had 49 pressures on just 324 pass-rush snaps.
#4: Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears (Overall Grade: 91.8042)
Khalil Mack is a good case study for those who believe that you can with a dominant pass rush. The Bears invested multiple first-round picks and a $141 million contract extension when they acquired him from the Raiders, and he’s been very productive. Alas, as Chicago’s defense was weakened on the back-end, and the offensive production has stagnated, the team certainly would want that trade back- it stripped them of too many resources for a non-quarterback/perimeter player. Nevertheless, he remains one of the best edge rushers in the NFL who doesn’t have the last name “Watt”.
#5: Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers (Overall Grade: 89.7416)
Since being drafted with the third overall pick in the 2016 draft, Joey Bosa has wasted no time becoming an impact pass rusher. In the two seasons of his career that he played over 600 snaps, he’s earned pass-rush grades of 90.3+ and had at least 72 pressures, and the Chargers have to decide whether they want to pay him $20 million per year on an extension soon, as he’s set to play out his fifth-year option and become a free agent next offseason (Los Angeles will certainly franchise tag him, however).
#6: Za’Darius Smith, Green Bay Packers (Overall Grade: 88.528)
When the Packers signed Za’Darius Smith to a four-year, $66 million, many considered it a massive overpay for a decent pass rush with a limited track record of success. So, naturally, he led all edge rushers in total pressures in his first season with Green Bay. Now, the 27-year-old needs to prove that it wasn’t a fluke, but it could just be that he landed in the perfect situation, as he creates a lot of havoc when he’s used as an interior rusher on obvious passing downs.
#7: Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers (Overall Grade: 88.5094)
When the 49ers drafted Nick Bosa with the second overall pick in the 2019 draft, they did so expecting him to be an immediate superstar. That’s exactly what happened, as, including the playoffs, the 22-year-old accumulated over 100 pressures, including 12 in the Super Bowl. He’s an absolute freak, and it wouldn’t shock me if he took his game to another level this season.
#8: Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints (Overall Grade: 87.8852)
He’d always been a solid player, but as the Saints have gone from one of the worst defenses to one of the better units, Cameron Jordan has become a force to be reckoned with. He’s now posted 70 pressures in each of the past five seasons, and is a really balanced player who is a powerful pass rusher and a reliable run defender.
#9: Justin Houston, Indianapolis Colts (Overall Grade: 87.7258)
Injuries took away a few valuable years of Justin Houston’s peak, and despite earning an 89.9 pass-rush grade, he was cut loose by the Chiefs, and only received a modest $12 million per year from the Colts. That would indicate that the 31-year-old is a shell of his former self, but that couldn’t be farther from the case. In his first season with Indianapolis, he displayed remarkable game-to-game consistency, received an 81.9 pass-rush grade, and should do far better in free agency next offseason.
#10: Trey Flowers, Detroit Lions (Overall Grade: 87.124)
He’s never been a high sack-getter, yet Trey Flowers has grown into a very reliable edge defender with the Patriots and Lions. He’s very similar to Jordan in that he’s a balanced player in terms of pass-rushing ability and run defense, and for what it’s worth, he really improved down the stretch in his first season in Detroit. With more talent around him this season, I’m expecting him to have better production, though the 60+ pressures he has averaged over the past three seasons are certainly adequate.
#11: Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys (Overall Grade: 86.4476)
After not making much if an impact in the first three seasons, Demarcus Lawrence broke onto the scene in his fourth season, earning a remarkable 92 pass-rush grade. In the two seasons since then, he’s remained a productive player, though his overall numbers have declined and he was merely an above-average pass rusher last season. Dallas will be hoping he can be more like the player he was in 2017, considering they signed him to an $100 million extension last offseason.
#12: Von Miller, Denver Broncos (Overall Grade: 86.1708)
With a Pro Football Focus grade of 90 or higher in each of his first eight seasons, Von Miller certainly has been the best edge rusher of the past decade, and appears to be on his way to Canton. However, the 31-year-old will need to prove that he isn’t starting to regress with age, as he disappointed last season. His pass-rush grade dropped to 71.4, and when analyzing his game logs, it’s clear that he wasn’t able to dominate in a specific game like he was able to do previously. Hopefully, he just needed time to adjust to head coach Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme, and he can go back to being one of the elite players at this position in 2020.
#13: Calais Campbell, Baltimore Ravens (Overall Grade: 84.2082)
After being merely a decent player, Calais Campbell has emerged as a late bloomer, breaking out in the 7th season in his career. Notably, he’s had a pass-rush grade of 80 or higher in three of the last four seasons, and also may be the best run defender in the NFL. His ability to be an edge rusher at 6’8″ and 300 pounds is exceptional, and with his ability to also kick inside, he’s a perfect piece for the Ravens, who acquired him from the Jaguars for a fifth-round pick and can slot him into defensive coordinator Don Martindale’s “position-less defense”.
#14: Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings (Overall Grade: 83.6606)
For whatever reason, edge rushers tend to develop later than you’d expect. The Vikings moved quickly to sign Danielle Hunter to a five-year, $72 million extension, and in the first year of that deal, he finally became the player they’ve long waited for him to become. He ranked second in the league in total pressures (88), and is clearly making good on the potential he always had with his freaky athletic profile.
#15: Dee Ford, San Francisco 49ers (Overall Grade: 83.3644)
Speaking of late breakouts, Dee Ford’s happened in the fifth season of his career, as he earned a 91 pass-rush grade and had 78 pressures. However, the Chiefs still traded him to the 49ers, clearly not believing in him to replicate that production. Due to the personnel they have, San Francisco kept him off the field on base downs, as he’s a poor run defender, but that’s fine considering how productive of a pass rusher he is. You’d ideally want a player you’re paying around $17 million a year to play more than 20 snaps a game, though, so don’t be surprised if the 49ers part ways with him after this season.
#16: Olivier Vernon, Cleveland Browns (Overall Grade: 82.5362)
Odell Beckham Jr. was the main addition that former Browns general manager Jon Dorsey made last offseason, but the team also acquired Olivier Vernon from the Giants, who, at the time, was coming off of one of his best seasons in terms of pass-rush grade (86). Even though he took a step back last season, he was still a productive player when healthy, and if he can manage to play a full season next year, I’m expecting him to wreak havoc playing alongside Myles Garrett.
#17: Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals (Overall Grade: 82.4354)
Although he’s always had high sack totals, Chandler Jones hasn’t been as dominant as it may seem like he has been. Nevertheless, he still has had a pass-rush grade of 84.8 or higher in three of the past four seasons, including a 90 pass-rush grade with 75 pressures despite playing on a talent-deficient defense. Looking at Arizona’s current roster, it appears he’ll once again be solely responsible for generating any sort of pass rush.
#18: Chase Young, Washington Redskins (Overall Grade: 82.3)
Ranking him in the top-20 as a rookie may be extreme, but hey, most people see Chase Young as a better prospect than Nick Bosa was last year, so perhaps this is too low of a ranking. Looking for a flaw in his skill set would be foolish, and although I don’t think the Redskins should’ve taken him for the sake of positional/draft value and team building, he was the best player in the 2020 draft.
#19: Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Overall Grade: 81.8862)
It’s rare for a player to go from being a role player to nearly 900 snaps while not losing any sort of efficiency, yet that’s what happened for Shaquil Barrett. The Bucs signed him to a small one-year contract, and he rewarded them with career-best production (82 pass-rush grade, 82 pressures). He’s not as tremendous as his 20 sacks would suggest, and does need to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke, but he was always a quality player when he got the chance to play, and Tampa Bay was very smart to give him the franchise tag.
#20: Jadeveon Clowney, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 81.2862)
Jadeveon Clowney came into the offseason with contract demands north of $20 million per year, but instead, he remains on the open market and may have to settle for a one-year contract. So it goes for the former first overall pick, who is much more productive as a run defender than a pass rusher. At the right price, a team can improve their defense by signing him, yet his former draft position has perhaps overrated him in the eyes of the media.
#21: Jerry Hughes, Buffalo Bills (Overall Grade: 81.0762)
A good-not-great player for most of his career, it appears that Jerry Hughes’ mysterious 2018 season may have been a flash in the pan. Still, he’s been a really nice high-end #2 edge rusher, and he’s a bargain at the $9.5 million he’s making annually over the next two seasons.
#22: Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals (Overall Grade: 79.5388)
Similarly to Hughes, Carlos Dunlap has never been an elite player, but he’s actually gotten better in the latter stages of his career. The 31-year-old is a top-notch run defender and is an above-average pass rusher, and has been one of the more underrated edge defenders over the past few seasons. At 6’6″ and 280 pounds with 4.68 speed, he’s a freak of nature, and he’ll be a part of a revamped pass rush in Cincinnati this season.
#23: Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers (Overall Grade: 79.4512)
A major reason why the 49ers are limiting Dee Ford’s snaps is the emergence of Arik Armstead. The 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft finally lived up to his potential last season, accumulating 62 pressures and earning a Pro Football Focus grade of 89.8. The $17 million per year he’s getting paid is way too much, considering that he’s only had one elite season, but he’s a nice flexible piece as a base edge defender and nickel interior rusher.
#24: Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles (Overall Grade: 79.022)
We’ve talked a lot about players who have had higher sack totals than they deserve, but Brandon Graham is the opposite. He generates a lot of pressure and is one of the most efficient pass rushers in the NFL, yet he remains extremely underrated due to the fact that he’s only had one season with double-digit sacks. Now 32-years-old, he has showed signs of slowing down, yet remains a versatile weapon and will benefit from Philadelphia’s deep rotation of pass rushers.
#25: Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos (Overall Grade: 76.6172)
The Broncos were hoping that Bradley Chubb, a top-five pick in 2018, would have a classic second-year breakout season last year. Alas, he tore his ACL after four games, so we’ll have to wait for this season to see if he’s ready to take the next step. Still, a 72.7 pass-rush grade and 57 pressures are impressive numbers for a rookie, so I’m confident he’ll be able to produce like a top-25 edge rusher.
#26: Melvin Ingram III, Los Angeles Chargers (Overall Grade: 73.8824)
Between 2013 and 2017, Melvin Ingram III was a borderline elite pass rusher. In the past two seasons, however, he’s seen his production decline, which makes you wonder if he’s regression with age (now 31-years-old). Still, he definitely remains an above-average edge rusher, and is in the perfect spot since he only needs to be the #2 pass rusher for the Chargers.
#27: Dante Fowler Jr., Atlanta Falcons (Overall Grade: 73.0372)
His 15 sacks would indicate that he’s a blossoming star, but Dante Fowler Jr. has only had one season with a Pro Football Focus grade above 70. He still has all the talent in the world, however, and clearly became a better player when he was traded to the Rams- he had been a poor fit for the Jaguars since they once took him with the third overall pick in the 2015 draft. He benefited from a lot of cleanup pressures/sacks last season, so the $16 million per year he’s making with the Falcons is too much, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he continues to grow as a player with his third team.
#28: Marcus Davenport, New Orleans Saints (Overall Grade: 72.5262)
The Saints thought so highly of Marcus Davenport in the 2018 draft that they gave up a future first-round pick to move up to select him. While the trade was never going to work out for them, which is the case for almost all non-quarterback trade-ups, it’s easy to see why they coveted him. Coming out UTSA, he ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at 6’6″ and 265 pounds, and has freakish power that has allowed him to develop into a very talented bull-rusher. He’s failed to stay healthy in the first two seasons of his career, but he received an 84.1 from Pro Football Focus last season, and I truly believe that he can become a dominant player in his third season.
#29: Matthew Judon, Baltimore Ravens (Overall Grade: 71.9546)
The Ravens do a great job manufacturing production from the edge rushers, which is why I expect them to let Matthew Judon walk after he plays out the franchise tag this season- it’s what they’ve done for the likes of Za’Darius Smith and Pernell McPhee. Still, we’d be underselling the 27-year-old to call him a complete product of the defensive system, as he still had a 78.3 pass-rush grade last season, and has gotten better in every season of his four-year career.
#30: Preston Smith, Green Bay Packers (Overall Grade: 71.7702)
When the Packers subsequently signed Za’Darius and Preston Smith last offseason, Preston actually looked like the better Smith. That’s obviously no longer the case, since the 27-year-old remained a solid pass rusher, rather than the monster that Za’Darius emerged as. He’s fine as a #2 edge rusher, though I wouldn’t be shocked if Green Bay cuts ties with him after this season- there is an out in his back-loaded $52 million contract.
#31: Adrian Clayborn, Cleveland Browns (Overall Grade: 68.5262)
Best known for the time he had six sacks in one game, Adrian Clayborn has suddenly become a solid player over the past three seasons of his career, so he fits the mold as an edge rusher that took much longer to develop than anticipated. Still, he continues to get overlooked, so he had to settle for a modest two-year, 5.7 million deal with the Browns this offseason- he’s a very nice rotational piece for them.
#32: Terrell Suggs, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 68.1954)
He may be 37-years-old, but Terrell Suggs still has some juice left in the tank, in my opinion. He’s still a quality player who is able to contribute as a pass rusher and run defender, even if he can’t be a full-time starter given his age. I’m hoping he decides to come back for one more season, though we’ll have to wait for him to announce his intentions- is a reunion with the Ravens in the cards?
#33: Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins (Overall Grade: 68.001)
Since the Redskins have spent a first-round pick on an edge rusher in subsequent seasons, it appears that Ryan Kerrigan will mostly be a rotational pass rusher this season. He’s still clearly the second-best pass rusher on this team currently, however, and in general, he’s been of the more consistent players at this position.
#34: Everson Griffen, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 67.9204)
2018 was a very tough year for Everson Griffen, who dealt with some off-the-field issues and only mustered a 61.4 pass-rush grade. The 32-year-old got back on track last season, however, as he had another 60+ pressure season. As a player who is a nickel interior rusher, yet once ran a 4.65 40-yard dash, he has all the talent in the world, and given the production he’s had in every season besides 2018, I’m very surprised he hasn’t been signed yet.
#35: Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville Jaguars (Overall Grade: 67.8896)
At the moment, Yannick Ngakoue is in the news since he’s publicly asked for a trade from the Jaguars several times, and has even got into a twitter argument with the team owner’s son. I’m guessing that the lack interest in the 25-year-old has to do with his subpar run defense, but my main issue is his inability to back up his dominant 2017 season- he’s gone back to being simply an above-average pass rusher, which isn’t acceptable given his inability to be even average versus the run.
#36: Bud Dupree, Pittsburgh Steelers (Overall Grade: 66.7224)
After being mostly a below-average player for the first four seasons of his career, Bud Dupree suddenly flipped the switch in a contract year, earning a 76.3 pass-rush grade. Now, expecting him to once again have 13 sacks is foolish, and he definitely benefits from playing on one of the most talented defensive fronts- he’s the Steelers’ fourth-best pass rusher. Still, though, he’ll have a chance to prove himself on the franchise tag, even if he remains a classic “buyer beware” player currently.
#37: Curtis Weaver, Miami Dolphins (Overall Grade: 66.4)
Since he doesn’t pass the eye test in terms of body frame, Curtis Weaver was always destined to fall in the 2020 draft. The fact he went in the fifth round is absurd, however, as outside of Chase Young, he’s the best well-rounded rookie pass rusher. His bend off the edge is exceptional, and I expect him to make an impact immediately for a Dolphins team that needs all the pass rush they can get.
#38: AJ Epenesa, Buffalo Bills (Overall Grade: 66.3)
Similarly to Weaver, AJ Epenesa fell slightly in the draft (54th overall) due to a poor combine, yet his testing numbers are quite similar to Arik Armstead, who the 49ers just paid big money to retain. He is an extremely technically-sound player who plays with a lot of power, so he should have a seamless transition to the NFL.
#39: Shaq Lawson, Miami Dolphins (Overall Grade: 66.25)
Before the Dolphins drafted Weaver, they made other moves to improve their pass rush, and their main one was signing Shaq Lawson to a. $30 million deal. He has failed to become more than a solid player as a pass rusher and run defender, though he’s a better fit in Miami’s multiple scheme that he was in Buffalo.
#40: Ifaedi Odenigbo, Minnesota Vikings (Overall Grade: 66.241)
The Vikings were comfortable letting Everson Griffen depart in free agency, but that says more about Ifaedi Odenigbo than Griffen. A former seventh-round pick out of Northwestern, he spent time with multiple teams before coming back to the Vikings, where earned a 73.2 pass-rush grade. Obviously, he’ll need to repeat that production while playing twice as many snaps this season, but he’s capable of playing the same role that Griffen played- he also is able to move inside on obvious passing downs.
#41: Robert Quinn, Chicago Bears (Overall Grade: 66.2)
Usually, pigeon-holing a player as a 3-4 edge rusher or a 4-3 edge rusher is a waste of time, as most teams run their defense through a nickel 4-2-5 formation. However, Robert Quinn is the lone exception, since he’s consistently struggled as a stand-up rusher, and works much better with his hand in the dirt- in that role with the Cowboys last season, he had his best season since 2015. However, he’ll go back to being a stand-up rusher after the Bears signed him to a massive $70 million deal (albeit with an easy out after two years), which could lead to him not being as productive. Regardless, it’ll be fascinating to see how he performs, especially on a very talented front four.
#42: Tyus Bowser, Baltimore Ravens (Overall Grade: 65.995)
Seen as a bit of a tweener coming into the 2017 draft, Tyus Bowser played under 200 snaps in the first two seasons of his career, but in a slightly larger role last season, the former second-round pick thrived. His 70.6 pass-rush grade is really encouraging, and between him, Judon, and Campbell, Baltimore’s pass rush will be in much better shape next season.
#43: Vinny Curry, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 65.846)
Even high-end edge rushers get rotated out occasionally, as it’s hard to stay fresh when playing the entire game. Therefore, having players who can effectively fill-in and play 400 snaps is valuable, and Vinny Curry has succeeded in that role. He’s consistently been an above-average pass rusher for the Eagles, and in the one season he wasn’t productive, he was on a different team (Bucs), got injured, and was a full-time player for them. He’s currently a free agent, but some team should sign him to add depth to their edge rush group, such as the Titans, Seahawks, or perhaps even Philadelphia.
#44: Genard Avery, Philadelphia Eagles (Overall Grade: 65.6432)
In his rookie season, Genard Avery vastly outperformed his draft position with the Browns, earning a 69.1 pass-rush grade. For whatever reason, though, he fell out of favor in Cleveland, and was shipped to Philadelphia during the season. Although he’s a bit undersized, he’s proven to be a capable edge rusher, at least as a rotational player, and I really hope the Eagles give him a chance to produce in Curry’s old role.
#45: Frank Clark, Kansas City Chiefs (Overall Grade: 65.6432)
The Chiefs have made a lot of smart decisions, but the fact that they gave up a first-round pick to acquire Frank Clark, and then extend him on a $104 million contract, is just baffling. The 26-year-old has always been more of a solid pass rusher than a standout one, and sure enough, he was an average player last season and failed to make a noticeable impact in any particular game. The Chiefs have to be hoping he at least gets back to his previous form with the Seahawks, or they could seriously have the worst edge rush in the NFL.
#46: Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars (Overall Grade: 63.409)
It’s rare that you’re seen as a draft steal when you’re the seventh overall pick, but many believed Josh Allen was a blue-chip talent that the Jaguars lucked into. His 70.2 pass-rush grade and 49 pressures were encouraging for a rookie, and he looks to be one his way to being one of the top speed rushers in the NFL.
#47: Michael Bennett, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 63.098)
For many years, Michael Bennett was the epitome of a powerful edge rusher who can cause damage as an interior rusher in sub packages for the Seahawks. Although he’s now 34-years-old and coming off of a down year, he can still succeed in that role, so any teams that run the same cover-three scheme that Seattle continues to utilize should covet him.
#48: Benson Mayowa, Seattle Seahawks (Overall Grade: 61.117)
#49: Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys (Overall Grade: 60.782)
He has a lot of off-the-field concerns and may not even be eligible to play, but the Cowboys could really benefit if Randy Gregory gets reinstated. He was a solid pass rusher in 457 snaps in 2018.
#50: Kyle Van Noy, Miami Dolphins (Overall Grade: 60.184)
As more of an off-ball linebacker with the Lions and Patriots, Kyle Van Noy struggled for the first five years of his career. However, in his hybrid role with New England, they used him more as a pass rusher this season, and he flourished. The 29-year-old was an elite run defender (85.4 run defense grade) and solid pass rusher (69.4 pass-rusher), and luckily for him, should have a very similar role in Miami, who run a very similar defense.
#51: Tarell Basham, New York Jets (Overall Grade: 59.55)
#52: Julian Okwara, Detroit Lions (Overall Grade: 59)
Julian Okwara’s elite athletic traits, paired with his college production, could’ve landed him in the first round, yet the Notre Dame product fell to the third round of the draft. Although he’d succeed as a traditional edge rusher, his change-of-the-direction skills and drop-off coverage ability make me think that Detroit will use him in a similar role to Van Noy- that would be his best chance of making an immediate impact.
#53: K’Lavon Chaisson, Jacksonville Jaguars (Overall Grade: 58.9)
Chaisson is essentially the same player as Okwara, yet with less college production. If he couldn’t dominate versus college tackles, what makes us think it’ll finally click in the NFL? There’s a chance I’m completely wrong, which is why he ranks in this fourth tier, especially since his athletic tools and ability to set the edge appear to be there.
#54: Yetur Gross-Matos, Carolina Panthers (Overall Grade: 58.8)
At the very least, Yetur Gross-Matos should be a strong run defender in the NFL. However, he, similarly to Chaisson, failed to be a high-end producer in college, so I’m worried he will struggle in the NFL. Nevertheless, his length, athleticism, and “upside” is tremendous.
#55: Samson Ebukam, Los Angeles Rams (Overall Grade: 58.75)
#56: Mario Addison, Buffalo Bills (Overall Grade: 57.8184)
Although there is an easy out after this season, the Bills clearly see something in Mario Addison, as they signed him to a three-year, $30 million contract. The 32-year-old has never been a solid pass rusher, and will be a part of a nice rotation in Buffalo.
#57: Jason Pierre-Paul, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Overall Grade: 56.807)
I’d love to buy into the idea that Jason Pierre-Paul has been rejuvenated in Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme in Tampa Bay, but that’s certainly not the case. His 67.7 pass-rush grade was inflated from one standout game, and for three years, he hasn’t made much of an impact as a pass rusher. The Bucs had a great offseason, yet extending the 31-year-old to a two-year contract worth $27 million was a misstep on their part.
#58: Kemoko Turay, Indianapolis Colts (Overall Grade: 56.29)
Turay was seen as a high “upside” player coming out of Ohio State, and the Colts wisely drafted him in the second round and had him play a limited role in his rookie season- he needs to develop his skill set. Well, as a rookie, he had a 67.7 pass-rush grade, and in 81 snaps last season, he dominated. Unfortunately, he missed twelve games last season due to an ankle injury, but he’ll be expected to play a major role for the Colts this season.
#59: Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers (Overall Grade: 56.0704)
Seen as an athletic freak coming out of Florida State, Brian Burns was always seen as a player who needed some time to refine his abilities. Nevertheless, he still mustered a 68.7 pass-rush grade, though his game-to-game consistency left a lot to be desired- Carolina barely played him down the stretch. We’ll see what the 22-year-old has in store for his second season.
#60: Takkarist McKinley, Atlanta Falcons (Overall Grade: 55.5106)
It’s always assumed that young edge rushers will only get better, yet that’s not the case with Takkarist McKinley. He’s essentially been the same player for all three years of his career since being drafted ahead of TJ Watt in the 2017 draft, making it an easy decision for Atlanta to decline his fifth-year option. He’s still only 24-years-old, yet this is obviously a major season for him if he wants to make good on his potential.
#61: Darrell Taylor, Seattle Seahawks (Overall Grade: 55)
The Seahawks surprised many when they traded up to select Darrell Taylor in the second round of this year’s draft, though he’ll at least likely be an immediate starter for them. He’s a really productive bull rusher, but doesn’t really have much else in his arsenal, and by no means is any sort of an athletic freak- he was just a sufficient edge rush prospect.
#62: Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati Bengals (Overall Grade: 54.6)
He did have nine sacks last season, yet Sam Hubbard really hasn’t developed as a pass rusher. He’s more of a run defender that plays a role on early downs and moves inside on passing downs- his best role is an Arik Armstead-type of usage.
#63: Josh Uche, New England Patriots (Overall Grade: 53.5)
To replace Kyle Van Noy, the Patriots drafted the perfect player for their scheme in Josh Uche in the second round. At Michigan, he had one of the highest pass-rush win rates in the NFL, and although undersized, he has enough power to succeed as a pass rusher.
#64: Jonathan Greenard, Houston Texans (Overall Grade: 53)
A very frustrating prospect, Jonathan Greenard flashed first-round potential at times, yet his inconsistency caused him to slip to the end of the third round, where the Texans drafted him to be a rotational player for them. He’s an intelligent player with multiple pass-rush moves and flexibility, yet fails to play with enough power.
#65: Trey Hendrickson, New Orleans Saints (Overall Grade: 52.9)
#66: Trent Murphy, Buffalo Bills (Overall Grade: 52.0214)
#67: Ryan Anderson, Washington Redskins (Overall Grade: 52.0008)
#68: Carl Nassib, Las Vegas Raiders (Overall Grade: 51.6)
He’s a player that’s easy to root for based on his star appearance on Hard Knocks with the Browns, but the three-year, $25 million contract that Carl Nassib got from the Raiders is hard to get on board with. He’s an 80th percentile run defender, yet only is an average pass rusher.
#69: Chase Winovich, New England Patriots (Overall Grade: 51.5)
Although he’s not a dynamic athlete, Chase Winovich is a very skilled player who has consistently produced. In 291 snaps last season, he earned a 66.2 pass-rush grade, and that comes after he dominated previously at Michigan.
#70: Zach Allen, Arizona Cardinals (Overall Grade: 51.4)
Although his rookie season didn’t go as expected, I’m hoping that not all hope is lost for Zach Allen. He reminded me of a poor man’s JJ Watt coming out of Temple, as at 285 pounds, he was meant to be an early down edge rusher and nickel interior rusher. At the very least, he should provide some value as a run defender.
#71: Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders (Overall Grade: 51.1628)
With 11 sacks last year, some wanted Maxx Crosby to be considered in the Defensive Rookie of the Year award discussion. However, that would have been simply absurd. Despite rushing the passer for 481 snaps, he only had 45 pressures, and really just had two productive games against below-average offensive lines (Chargers and Bengals).
#72: Carl Lawson, Cincinnati Bengals (Overall Grade: 51.1)
Injury concerns dropped him to the fourth round of the 2017 draft, yet Carl Lawson seemed to be on the verge of becoming a star when he had a 80.9 pass-rush grade on 225 snaps last season. Unfortunately, he disappointed last season as an average pass rusher and run defender, so Cincinnati will be hoping he bounces back this season.
#73: Josh Sweat, Philadelphia Eagles (Overall Grade: 50.922)
#74: Markus Golden, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 49.5548)
He had 12 sacks and 64 pressures last season, but there’s a reason Markus Golden hasn’t been signed yet. He had 509 pass-rush snaps, so he had plenty of time to accumulate statistics, while he only had a 63 pass-rush grade. His track record suggest he’s an alright rotational rusher, yet not much more than that.
#75: Brennan Scarlett, Houston Texans (Overall Grade: 49.5262)
#76: Jabaal Sheard, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 49.247)
#77: Jordan Jenkins, New York Jets (Overall Grade: 48.747)
In his rookie season, Jordan Jenkins surprised a lot of people by being a really productive player. After two subpar seasons, he got back on track last year, though most of his came against the Dolphins’ putrid offensive line, so we should perhaps take that with a grain of salt.
#78: Clay Matthews, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 46.2836)
At the beginning of his career, Clay Matthews was a fantastic player for the Packers. However, from his fifth year on, he was more of a solid player, and has been just a 50th percentile pass rusher over the past two seasons.
#79: Bradlee Anae, Dallas Cowboys (Overall Grade: 46)
Bradlee Anae lacks ideal physical traits, yet he has a solid chance to start as a #2 edge rusher, so getting him in the fifth round was a steal for the Cowboys. His hand technique is terrific, and he’ll at least be a reliable run defender.
#80: Leonard Floyd, Los Angeles Rams (Overall Grade: 45.606)
As a top-ten pick in 2016, Leonard Floyd really disappointed and failed to progress for the Bears. He’s grown into a solid run defender, yet, despite his athletic tools, struggles to generate pressure on the opposing quarterback, and the Rams shouldn’t be expecting anything more from him this season.
#81: John Simon, New England Patriots (Overall Grade: 44.849)
#82: Kyle Fackrell, New York Giants (Overall Grade: 44.5332)
Although his 12 sacks in 2018 were a fluke, I believe Kyle Fackrell can be a productive player this season. He’s a bit of a tweener, yet is the perfect player to be a edge rusher/linebacker hybrid, and he’ll get to be that for the Giants, who are implementing the Patriots’ multiple defense.
#83: Bruce Irvin, Seattle Seahawks (Overall Grade: 44.514)
#84: Malik Reed, Denver Broncos (Overall Grade: 43.93)
#85: Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles (Overall Grade: 43.856)
Getting back to former first-round picks that have failed to develop, Derek Barnett’s lack of production is disappointing, especially since he’s playing on a very talented defensive line. Not only has he struggled to stay healthy, but he’s been an average player.
#86: Efe Obada, Carolina Panthers (Overall Grade: 43.014)
#87: Brooks Reed, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 42.9066)
#88: Cassius Marsh, Jacksonville Jaguars (Overall Grade: 41.5114)
#89: Whitney Mercilus, Houston Texans (Overall Grade: 41.365)
Bill O’Brien has made a lot of puzzling moves, but one that doesn’t garner enough criticism is him signing Whitney Mercilus to a four-year, $54 million extension. Sure, the 29-year-old was really productive in 2015 and 2016, but he ranks in just the 40th percentile in pass-rush grade over the past two seasons, and he’ll be getting paid like a high-end #2 edge rusher.
#90: Clelin Ferrell, Las Vegas Raiders (Overall Grade: 41.2192)
The Raiders were bashed by many when they selected Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick over more well-regarded prospects, and one year later, it appears that they were wrong. Despite being seen as a high-floor, NFL-ready player, the 23-year-old wasn’t effective as a pass rusher, and although he improved as a run defender down the stretch, that isn’t worth the fourth overall pick.
#91: Harold Landry III, Tennessee Titans (Overall Grade: 40.713)
Harold Landry III is generally seen as a budding star based on his 9 sacks last season, but the former second-round pick still hasn’t made much of an impact. He ranks in the 40th percentile as a pass rusher, has failed to progress, and needs to prove himself in 2020. Unfortunately, there isn’t much pass-rush talent around him in Tennessee.
#92: Aaron Lynch, Jacksonville Jaguars (Overall Grade: 39.3204)
#93: Uchenna Nwosu, Los Angeles Chargers (Overall Grade: 38.458)
Nwosu, a second-round pick in 2017, shined in his rookie season, yet struggled mightily last season, and lost playing time throughout the season. It’ll be interesting to see how the Chargers intend to use him this season.
#94: Oshane Ximines, New York Giants (Overall Grade: 38.1)
#95: Vince Biegel, Miami Dolphins (Overall Grade: 38.0134)
#96: Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers (Overall Grade: 38)
Although he was far less productive that his college teammate Chase Winovich at Michigan, Rashan Gary was still a very hyped-up prospect who was selected with the 12th overall pick based on his athletic tools. He’s in a tough spot in Green Bay, where he’s just a role player, and he didn’t help his cause with just a 58.1 pass-rush grade in his limited snaps.
#97: Kerry Hyder, San Francisco 49ers (Overall Grade: 37.9362)
#98: Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami Dolphins (Overall Grade: 36.1862)
#99: Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants (Overall Grade: 35.398)
Carter was an intriguing development project when the Giants selected him in the third round of the 2018 draft, and he’ll need to be more than just a solid run defender this season; New York will likely ask him to be a starter.
#100: Montez Sweat, Washington Redskins (Overall Grade: 35.317)
Although he didn’t display much of a refined skill set at all, Montez Sweat’s length and 40-yard dash time made him a first-round pick by the Redskins, and they probably wish they could have that back. Sure, he still can develop, but they don’t need him currently, and mortgaged the 34th overall pick in this year’s draft to trade up for him.
#101: LJ Collier, Seattle Seahawks (Overall Grade: 33.8)
The most surprising pick of the first round in 2019 had to be LJ Collier, who was taken around two rounds earlier than anyone expected him to be taken. At 6’2″ and 291 pounds, he’s a tweener that’ll likely play for Seattle in a Michael Bennett-like role, yet he was a healthy scratch for many of their games.
#102: Jihad Ward, Baltim#ore Ravens (Overall Grade: 33.5768)
#103: Charles Harris, Atlanta Falcons (Overall Grade: 33.571)
#104: Ben Banogu, Indianapolis Colts (Overall Grade: 33.35)
Speaking of surprise picks, the Colts have always been confident in their evaluations, so they didn’t mind gambling a second-round pick on the athletic “upside” of Ben Banogu. TCU is known for not doing a proper job if developing their pass rushers due to the amount of stunts they use, so there is some untapped potential in there- he’ll be a rotational pass rusher for them this season.
#105: Brandon Copeland, New England Patriots (Overall Grade: 30.7078)
#106: Devon Kennard, Arizona Cardinals (Overall Grade: 29.969)
The Cardinals gave Devon Kennard a three-year, $21 million contract to bolster their edge rush, and I don’t think he’ll accomplish that. He’s a below-average pass rusher who provides more value in run defense, although I’ll acknowledge that he could be better now that he’s not in a hybrid role in Detroit.
#107: Kareem Martin, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 28.253)
#108: Breeland Speaks, Kansas City Chiefs (Overall Grade: 28.2116)
#109: Romeo Okwara, Detroit Lions (Overall Grade: 28.176)
#110: Vic Beasley Jr., Tennessee Titans (Overall Grade: 27.5494)
A top-ten pick in 2015, Vic Beasley looked to be on the verge of becoming a star when he earned an 85.8 pass-rush grade in his second season. However, in the three seasons since then, the 27-year-old had had a pass-rush grade of 62.3 or lower, but for whatever reason, the Titans thought he was worth $9 million on a one-year flyer.
#111: Solomon Thomas, San Francisco 49ers (Overall Grade: 27.3766)
Coming out of Stanford, Solomon Thomas always seemed like a better bet to produce as an interior rusher, but the 49ers have had him line up as an edge rusher. The former third overall pick has been a non-factor in each of the past three seasons, and looks like a flat-out bust at this point of his career, especially if he continues to be used as an edge rusher.
#112: Stephen Weatherly, Carolina Panthers (Overall Grade: 26.68)
#113: Frankie Luvu, New York Jets (Overall Grade: 26.4962)
#114: Al-Quadin Muhammad, Indianapolis Colts (Overall Grade: 26.3482)
#115: Taco Charlton, Kansas City Chiefs (Overall Grade: 24.7972)
#116: Kamalei Correa, Tennessee Titans (Overall Grade: 24.593)
#117: Jeremiah Attaochu, Denver Broncos (Overall Grade: 23.04)
#118: Kyle Phillips, New York Jets (Overall Grade: 22.642)
#119: Ronald Blair III, San Francisco 49ers (Overall Grade: 20.638)
#120: Arden Key, Las Vegas Raiders (Overall Grade: 19.5266)
#121: Alex Okafor, Kansas City Chiefs (Overall Grade: 18.97)
#122: Jaylon Ferguson, Baltimore Ravens (Overall Grade: 18.061)
#123: Ezekiel Ansah, Free Agent (Overall Grade: 17.832)
#124: Rasheem Green, Seattle Seahawks (Overall Grade: 17.7648)
#125: Chad Thomas, Cleveland Browns (Overall Grade: 16.895)
#126: Branden Jackson, Seattle Seahawks (Overall Grade: 16.599)
#127: Chris Smith, Carolina Panthers (Overall Grade; 14.899)
#128: Tyquan Lewis, Indianapolis Colts (Overall Grade: 13.541)
#129: Tano Kpassagnon, Kansas City Chiefs (Overall Grade: 11.538)
#130: Dawuane Smoot, Jacksonville Jaguars (Overall Grade: 10.865)
#131: Avery Moss, Miami Dolphins (Overall Grade: 9.895)
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