NFL News & Analysis

PFF Edge Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2023 NFL season

KW8RHF Pittsburgh, PA, USA. 31st Dec, 2017. Browns Myles Garrett #95 during the Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. Jason Pohuski/CSM/Alamy Live News

  • Myles Garrett leads the pack: The Cleveland Browns just posted his fifth straight season where he earned an 89.5-plus overall grade with double-digit sacks.
  • Micah Parsons not far behind: Parsons finished top five in both pass rush grade (92.2) and win rate (19.6%) over the last two years and is No. 1 in the league in our pass rush productivity metric.
  • Haason Reddick leads Tier 2: Reddick’s 2022 season was a career year, notching 16 sacks (his third straight season breaking double digits) with a 16.8% pass rush win rate.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

As the game of football remains ever-changing and evolving, one staple will always remain: the need for elite edge play. In every free agency and draft cycle, we see that teams will spend some of their top capital to get the best difference-makers at the position. 

Heading into the 2023 season, there are my top 32-edge rushers in tiers. 

Other positional rankings:

QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | OG | C | DI | CB | LB 

Tier 1

  1. Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
  2. Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys
  3. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
  4. T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders
  6. Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers

This group is the best of the best — and in all honesty — why we used a tiered system for the edge rankings. All six of these players are potential game-wreckers against opposing offenses, but Garrett takes the top spot due to his consistent elite play. This past season was Garrett's fifth straight season where he earned an 89.5-plus overall grade with double-digit sacks, keeping his pass rush win percentage above 22% in three of them.

Parsons finished top five in both pass rush grade (92.2) and win rate (19.6%) over the last two years and is No. 1 in the league in our pass rush productivity metric.

Bosa won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2022, as he led the league in pressures (90), finished third in pass rush win percentage (21%), and was stout versus the run (82.6 run defense grade while missing zero tackles as a run defender). 

Watt was hurt last season, but when healthy, he is still a walking masterclass of how to play the edge position.

As for Crosby, over the last two seasons, no player has more pressures (100), and only Garrett has a higher cumulative pass rush win rate (19.7%).

Despite some fading hype, Joey Bosa is one of the most talented edge rushers in the league. He had three consecutive seasons with 90.0-plus pass rush grades from 2019-2021, and though he missed time last year, he still recorded a 21.5% pass rush win percentage.

Tier 2

  1. Haason Reddick, Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers
  3. Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Von Miller, Buffalo Bills
  5. Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings
  6. Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers

Reddick’s 2022 season was a career year, notching 16 sacks (his third straight season breaking double digits) with a 16.8% pass rush win rate.

Gary missed time last season, but over the past two years, he ranks sixth in pass-rush grade (90.2), fourth in pass-rush win percentage (19.7%) and second in pass-rush productivity.

Hendrickson has aged like a fine wine, as his pass-rush grade has increased every season, culminating in an elite 90.2 pass-rush grade this past season while finishing top 12 in pressures (62).

Miller’s age has been showing a bit since leaving Denver, but his pass rush win percentage remains high. Before his ACL injury this past season, he totaled eight sacks in 11 games with a 16.7% win percentage.

Hunter may be three years removed from his impressive 2019 season, but I don’t think enough people are giving him the credit he deserves for his impressive 2022 season, as it was the second-most productive season of his career. He finished the year with a 15.9% pass rush win rate and 85 total pressures.

Burns has recorded 30.5 sacks over the last three seasons — seventh most in the league — and his 174 total pressures ranked fourth. Nonetheless, his pass rush win percentage remains low, averaging just 10.5% over that time span. Becoming more consistent with how and when he wins is what he needs to do to rank higher on this list in the future.

Tier 3

  1. Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers
  2. Jaelen Phillips, Miami Dolphins
  3. Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Montez Sweat, Washington Commanders
  5. Za’Darius Smith, Cleveland Browns
  6. Matthew Judon, New England Patriots

Mack has declined the past two years from his elite days, as his pass rush win percentage decreased from 14.4% in 2021 to just 11.0% in 2022 while his run-defense grades went from 64.7 to 61.3. Nonetheless, a healthy Bosa and more depth on the Chargers defensive line should enable him to find more success in 2023. 

Phillips took a big leap in production as a pass-rusher last year, jumping from a 61.4 pass-rush grade in 2021 as a rookie to 90.1 in his second season. He’s still winning on his physical gifts, but once he starts to really master some moves, he’ll rank even higher on this list.

Allen has steadily improved throughout his career, earning career highs in total pressures (67) and pass rush win percentage (14.2%) in 2022. He’s also improved dramatically as a run defender, becoming one of the best all-around young edge players in the league.

Sweat took a big jump in pass rush efficiency this past season, finishing with a 16.1% pass rush win percentage and 70 total pressures. He was also a top-seven edge rusher in PFF’s WAR metric (0.35).

Smith has been a very productive pass-rusher since 2019, and he posted another strong year in 2022. Since 2019, he has a 16.4% cumulative pass rush win percentage. Even at 30 years old and going on his third team in three years, he’s still an extremely capable veteran pass-rusher.

Judon’s pass rush win percentage is relatively low compared to the other names around him in this list at 12.5%, but he’s a productive backfield player due to how savvy he is when rushing the pocket from the outside or as a stunting player up the middle.

Tier 4

  1. Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys
  2. Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  3. John Franklin-Myers, New York Jets
  4. Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions
  5. Josh Uche, New England Patriots
  6. Denico Autry, Tennessee Titans
  7. Randy Gregory, Denver Broncos
  8. Chase Young, Washington Commanders

Lawrence leads off the Tier 4 list. His pass-rush stats have faded a bit over the past few seasons, but he’s one of the top all-around edge players in the league due to how good he is against the run. He’s recorded 85.1 run defense and 88.1 pass rush culmulative grades since 2020.

Barrett is coming off an Achilles tear, so who knows what he’ll be in 2023; however, since 2019, he’s been one of the league's most productive and savvy pass-rushers. Franklin-Myers is a unique edge player at 6-foot-4 and 288 pounds, but he has lightning-quick hands and a ton of power. He’s recorded a 74.0-plus pass rush grade and a pass rush win percentage above 15.0% in each of the last three seasons.

Hutchinson came along strong as a pass-rusher in his rookie season. In his final five games of the season, he recorded an 89.9 pass-rush grade with a 22.7% pass-rush win rate.

Uche is another player who has come on strong as of late. He’s a speed rush specialist, and his 88.9 pass-rush grade and 19.7% pass-rush win rate in 2022 was the best on his team.

Autry and Gregory missed time in 2022 (Gregory much more time), but both still deserve to rank inside the top 25 on this list. Gregory recorded a career-best 17.5% pass rush win percentage before getting hurt. As for Young, he was one of the most productive college pass-rushers we have recorded, but his efficiency at the pro level has not lived up, even before his knee injury. He has all the talent in the world but has yet to produce a season where he had s pass rush win percentage above 12.1%.

Tier 5

  1.       Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati Bengals
  2.       Josh Sweat, Philadelphia Eagles
  3.       Greg Rousseau, Buffalo Bills
  4.       Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
  5.       Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints
  6.       Alex Highsmith, Pittsburgh Steelers

Hubbard is an underrated defender due to how solid he is as both a run stuffer and pass-rusher. He is a better run defender but has recorded 60-plus pressures in each of the last two seasons.

Similarly, Sweat earned a 79.5 run defense grade and an 80.9 pass rush grade, but his pass rush win percentage (hovering around 13.0%) needs to improve for him to jump higher.

Rousseau is such a unique player due to his length. He can play on the edge and even more inside, which gives all types of offensive linemen fits.

Graham, at 34 years old, showed few signs of aging, recording career highs in sacks (13.5) and pass rush win percentage (20.7%).

Jordan has been the NFL’s ironman over the last decade of play, but it appears age might be catching up to the now 33-year-old, who posted his worst pass rush grade (52.1) and pass rush win percentage (7.0%) in 2022.

Finally, Highsmith was productive in T.J. Watt’s absence, playing 941 defensive snaps with 14.5 sacks and 55 pressures.

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