Having an elite edge rusher in the NFL is the key to a team having a top defense. Organizations need an edge rusher that can sack, hit, and put pressure on the quarterback.
Besides having an edge rusher that gets to the quarterback, you also want your edge rusher to stop the run on the outside. If a team has a top edge rusher, it’s most likely the team has a top defense in the league.
Who are the top five edge rushers in the league, you ask?
5. J.J. Watt
In 2018, Watt played all 16 games for the first time in three years; his 2016 and 2017 seasons were cut short due to injuries. In the 2018 season, Watt had 16 sacks, seven forced fumbles, 61 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, and 25 quarterback hits. If he stays healthy and continues to dominate, Watt could end his career as a top three edge rusher when all is said and done.
4. Cameron Jordan
Cameron Jordan helped the New Orleans Saints have a dominant defense in 2018 and the best thing about him is that he hasn’t missed a single game since being drafted in 2011. In 2018, Cameron Jordan had one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 10.5 sacks, 72 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss and 22 QB hits. A player’s best ability is availability, and Cameron Jordan has that for sure and is deserving to be in the category of top 5 edge rushers in the league.
3. Calais Campbell
Calais Campbell has been an absolute beast the last two seasons for a Jacksonville Jaguars team that has had a top defensive line. Campbell is another top edge rusher that has excellent durability; he has played every game in four consecutive years. In the 2018 season, Campbell had one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 10.5 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss and 22 quarterback hits. Campbell is such a force on the edge that he helps the Jaguars’ interior linemen get pressure up the middle, as Campbell gets double teamed a lot.
2. Khalil Mack
Khalil Mack was one of the best edge rushers last year and has been pretty much unstoppable since coming into the league in 2014. Mack is another durable and explosive player who has only missed two games since being drafted. The 2018 season was a revenge season of sorts for Mack, and this is because he wanted to show Jon Gruden that he was the best edge rushed in the entire league after being traded from Oakland to Chicago. Mack finished the 2018 season with one interception, one defensive touchdown, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 12.5 sacks, 47 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and 18 quarterback hits.
1. Von Miller
Von Miller has undoubtedly been the most unstoppable edge rusher since being drafted in 2011. Miller has played all 16 games the last five seasons and has made five consecutive Pro Bowls. In 2018, Miller recorded one interception, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 14.5 sacks, 48 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 26 quarterback hits. Since being drafted in 2011, Miller has 98 career sacks, 443 total tackles, 125 tackles for a loss, 196 quarterback hits, 25 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, two defensive touchdowns, and two interceptions. Von Miller is undoubtedly the number one edge rusher in the NFL.