Moran’s NFL Positional Rankings: Edge

NFL EDGE Rushers

While the 2021 NFL season is still a few months away, it’s never too early to look ahead. Fan bases will argue day and night about who has the better team. Instead of debating the entire roster, why not debate positions? In the seventh part of a 12-part series, I will rank each team’s edge position. These rankings are a culmination of what the player has done over the entirety of their career, how they performed last season, and projecting how they will play this upcoming season.

Be sure to check out all of Moran’s NFL Positional Rankings.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Entering the 2021 NFL season, the Buccaneers have the best edge rush duo in football. This offseason, the team made a move it had to, re-signing star Shaquil Barrett. Over the last two years, Barrett has been dominant. This year, expect him to continue to be one of the best players on the edge. Jason Pierre-Paul also played great football for the Buccaneers helping them win the Super Bowl. Pierre-Paul showed late last season he still has something left. This year, Barrett and Pierre-Paul will be fun to watch again. In the first round of the draft, the Buccaneers selected Joe Tryon. Tryon has tremendous upside. He enters a great situation where he can ease in as a young player.


2. Washington Football Team

Washington spent recent first-round picks on Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Young had a special rookie season. He is exceptionally talented. In 2021, expect Young to continue being a force for Washington upfront. Sweat has had two very good years to start his NFL career. He will be extremely impactful along this dominant front. Young and Sweat should be a blast to watch on the edge for many years to come.

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3. Green Bay Packers

In 2019, the Packers added three great players on the edge. In free agency, the team signed Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The two have made a great impact. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Packers selected Rashan Gary. He entered a great situation as a raw prospect backing up both Smith’s. Last season, he had a bigger role and showed very encouraging promise. In terms of edge trios, the two Smiths and Gary make for the best. In 2021, expect the three to all play well.

4. Arizona Cardinals

This offseason, the Cardinals made a big move signing J.J. Watt. Watt will be motivated nearing the end of his career looking to win. He just needs to stay healthy. If he does, expect Watt to keep up his top-tier level of play on the edge. This season, Chandler Jones will be back healthy. Having a healthy Jones makes a drastic difference. Watt and Jones can be an extremely dominant edge tandem. Markus Golden provides very good depth on the edge.

5. Denver Broncos

Going into 2021, the Broncos have three very good players on the edge. It will be great to see a healthy Von Miller back. Expect Miller to make plays and show he can still be impactful. Bradley Chubb is a great, young player. This season, expect him to play his best yet. Miller and Chubb make for one of the best edge duos. Malik Reed is a very solid depth player who can help this defense.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have arguably the best edge in football in T.J. Watt. Watt is a dominant player in the prime of his career. In 2021, he will have another great year. Second-year player, Alex Highsmith has a great opportunity. Entering this season, he will start opposite of Watt. Expect Highsmith to play at a respectable level as a young player. He has the talent to be very good. Going into the year, the duo of Watt and Highsmith looks promising. Rookie Quincy Roche is an intriguing prospect.


7. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers will be getting one of the best edge players back this season, Nick Bosa. In his rookie season, Bosa was incredibly impactful. Going into year three, he should get back to the level he played in his rookie year. The 49ers will also have a healthy Dee Ford. Over the last two seasons, he has unfortunately battled injuries. This year, hopefully, he is not given too many reps. This way, he can remain healthy and provide a pass rush on passing downs. In free agency, the 49ers made a solid signing in Samson Ebukam. He should have a sizable role.

8. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins have an exciting duo of edge rushers. Last offseason, the team made a very good signing in Emmanuel Ogbah. He played great football last season. In 2021, Ogbah should continue making an impact. In the draft, the Dolphins selected Jaelan Phillips. Phillips is a prospect with tremendous talent. He has all the needed physical tools to be dominant. Andrew Van Ginkel is a very underrated player for the Dolphins. This season, Van Ginkel should take on a bigger role. In free agency, the Dolphins added Brennan Scarlett. He is a solid player who can contribute. Vince Biegel provides good depth. This group can be great.

9. Tennessee Titans

In free agency, the Titans made a big sign in Bud Dupree. Dupree is a great player who will improve this defense. He is a complete edge defender, he can rush the quarterback and play the run. Harold Landry is entering an important fourth season. So far, he has done some good things. Now, it is time for him to take the next step. The Titans front this season will be improved. Hopefully, it helps Landry. The duo of Dupree and Landry could be toward the top of the league.

10. Cleveland Browns

The Browns have a top edge in football, Myles Garrett. Garrett is possibly the best in football. This season, he will lead the Browns’ defense and make things easy for the rest of the unit. With this offseason being the second in a row of strong pursuit, the Browns finally landed Jadeveon Clowney. Hopefully, Clowney is healthy and can be a solid, consistent contributor. It will be important for the Browns. The team also added Takkarist McKinley.

11. New England Patriots

This offseason, the Patriots made an early splash in free agency, signing Matt Judon. Over the last two seasons, Judon has become a great player. This year, he will improve the Patriots pass rush. Chase Winovich is a good player entering year three. After the offseason acquisitions along the defensive front, Winovich could be even better. This offseason, the Patriots also signed Deatrich Wise back. Wise is a solid player with versatility. Judon, Winovich, and Wise should all be contributors.

12. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have a top-tier edge in football in Joey Bosa. Bosa has had a great five years in the league so far. Entering 2021, he is in his prime and will be a big factor leading the Chargers’ defense. Going into a contract year, Uchenna Nwosu could have his best season yet. It will be interesting to see what new head coach Brandon Staley can get out of him. Bosa and Nwosu could be a very solid pairing. Kyler Fackrell was a solid add in free agency. Rookie Chris Rumph II could have a rotational role.

13. Philadelphia Eagles

Despite his age, Brandon Graham is still a fantastic football player. This season, expect Graham to be a key piece to the Eagles’ defense. Entering year five, former first-round pick Derek Barnett will be interesting to watch. He is still a young player with talent. Josh Sweat is a good edge who will contribute for the Eagles this season. Ryan Kerrigan has had a great career and was added by the Eagles in the offseason.

14. Minnesota Vikings

This year, Danielle Hunter will be back. Having a healthy Hunter will make a massive difference for the Vikings. He is one of the best players on the edge in football. In the draft, the Vikings selected Patrick Jones II. Jones II is a prospect with the talent to be effective. In his first year, he should have a role. Bringing back Stephen Weatherly was a smart decision.

15. Carolina Panthers

Entering his third year, expect Brian Burns to become a dominant force on the edge. Burns is an exciting player who has done great things already as a pass rusher. He has all the talent. Burns has all the upside and potential to be one of the best in football. Haason Reddick was a solid free agency signing. Reddick will provide positional flexibility. Last season, he showed he can be successful as an edge rusher. Going into year two, Yetur Gross-Matos should make a greater impact. Gross-Matos has all the physical traits.

16. Chicago Bears

Khalil Mack is still one of the better edge defenders in football. Mack is a complete player even at this later point in his career. In 2021, he will have to keep up his top-level play for the Bears defense. Last offseason, the team signed Robert Quinn in free agency. Quinn did not go on to have a good year. This season, it will be important for him to make plays. Trevis Gipson could take on a more sizable role in year two if Quinn does not pick up his play. Jeremiah Attaochu provides very solid veteran depth.

17. New York Jets

This offseason, the Jets made a great free agent signing in Carl Lawson. For too long, the Jets have lacked an edge pass rusher who can be impactful. Lawson is a very exciting player in the prime of his career. Also, the Jets signed veteran Vinny Curry. Adding Curry was a solid move, he is still impactful as a pass rusher. Entering his second season, hopefully, third-round pick Jabari Zuniga can be a contributor. An undrafted free agent from a year ago, Bryce Huff has some intriguing talent.

18. Detroit Lions

The Lions made the right move in the offseason to sign back Romeo Okwara. Okwara is an underrated player. He is a very good pass rusher. Trey Flowers is a solid player who will contribute. Hopefully, in his second year, Julian Okwara has a bigger role. He has the potential to be an impact pass rusher on the edge. The two Okwara’s and Flowers can make for a good edge group.

19. Buffalo Bills

Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison are two veterans still capable of getting the job done. Going into his second season, expect A.J. Epenesa to take a bigger role. In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bills spent their first two picks on Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr., they will be expected to help. Rousseau has great upside with his unreal height and athletic traits. Basham was a productive pass rusher in college. From the start, both Rousseau and Basham will have roles upfront. Darryl Johnson is a good depth piece on the edge.

20. New Orleans Saints

Heading into the year, long-time Saint Cameron Jordan will be leading this group once again. Expect Jordan to play better than he did a year ago. Marcus Davenport is going into a crucial season in his career. He has all the abilities needed to be a consistent contributor. In the first round, the Saints selected Payton Turner. Turner is a fascinating prospect who can make an impact right away. Carl Granderson is an underrated player to keep an eye on.

21. Indianapolis Colts

Like the Bills, the Colts’ first two draft picks this year were spent on the defensive edge. Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo are two young prospects with talent. As rookies, they should get roles. Entering his fourth year, hopefully, Kemoko Turay can put it all together. He has all the physical traits needed to be effective. Ben Banogu is going into a pivotal year. Al-Quadin Muhammad and Isaac Rochell should each have situational opportunities along the defensive line.

22. Seattle Seahawks

Going into this season, the Seahawks have a ton of depth on the edge. Kerry Hyder was a solid add in free agency. The team signed back Carlos Dunlap. Last season, he helped down the stretch. Aldon Smith can still be a contributor. Benson Mayowa has had a good career. Three recent draft picks, Rasheem Green, Darrell Taylor, and Alton Robinson will have to prove their worth with all of the first four players being recent additions.

23. Cincinnati Bengals

In free agency, the Bengals made a big splash, signing Trey Hendrickson. Hendrickson is a solid player coming off a great year of production. Sam Hubbard is a good player on the edge entering the final year of his contract. He could have his best season. In the draft, the Bengals made a good pick in Joseph Ossai. Ossai should be an immediate help and has the upside needed to become dominant.

24. Los Angeles Rams

Leonard Floyd is coming off a great season for the Rams, his best one yet. This offseason, the team re-signed him to a four-year deal. Floyd should continue playing well. Entering his second season, Terrell Lewis should have a bigger role. He is a talented, young player. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is a player who should contribute. Okoronkwo will likely get more reps this season than any other which could lead to his best yet.

25. Baltimore Ravens

In the first round of the draft, the Ravens selected Jayson Oweh. Oweh is an exciting prospect. He has great physical traits and upside as a player. Pernell McPhee has had a very solid NFL career. During free agency, the Ravens brought back Tyus Bowser on a four-year contract. Jaylon Ferguson is entering an important year. Ferguson has the talent to help the Ravens defense. It will be needed as a result of the edge talent the Ravens did lose this offseason.

26. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders signed Yannick Ngakoue in free agency. He should help improve the Raiders pass rush. Ngakoue brings speed on the edge. A healthy Maxx Crosby should have a big bounce-back year. Crosby is a talented player. Clelin Ferrell has not been dominant but will help the Raiders’ defensive line. If he could improve as a pass rusher it would be great. Carl Nassib provides depth at edge. Rookie Malcolm Koonce could have a role as a situational pass rusher.

27. Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Lawrence needs to have a good year for the Cowboys’ defense. Over the last two years, he has not been as dominant. Randy Gregory could make an impact rushing the passer. If he does it would help the Cowboys in a dire way. Dorance Armstrong could have his best opportunity yet. Tarell Basham was a solid signing in free agency. Second-year player, Bradlee Anae should bring solid depth on the edge.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars recently spent two years straight of first-round picks on Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson. The two have the necessary traits to be an effective edge duo. Allen has had a solid start in his first two years. This season, anticipate him taking the next step and being even more of a force. Chaisson has to have a better year two. He can improve.

29. New York Giants

In the second round of the draft, the Giants added an exciting, young prospect Azeez Ojulari. Ojulari can bend turning the corner. He can be an impactful pass rusher. This should be the year Lorenzo Carter puts it all together. If Ojulari and Carter can play up to their capability, it would help the Giants greatly. Ifeadi Odenigbo was a solid free-agent addition. Oshane Ximines should have a role on the edge for the Giants’ defense.

30. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have a great roster but are not too talented on the defensive edge. Frank Clark is a good player. However, he has not been worth what the Chiefs have invested in him to this point. He should have a decent season for their front. Taco Charlton is a former first-round draft pick. He has not lived up to his draft billing to this point. This season, he will have an opportunity to contribute as the Chiefs do not have many known commodities at the position.

31. Houston Texans

Whitney Mercilus has been a great Texan. He is still a solid player who should help this defense in 2021. The team acquired Shaq Lawson in a trade this offseason. Second-year player, Jonathan Greenard should have more of a chance to be a contributor. In free agency, the Texans signed Jordan Jenkins. Jenkins plays hard and will help set the edge against the run. Jacob Martin has been a contributor to the Texans for the last two years.

32. Atlanta Falcons

Last offseason, the Falcons signed Dante Fowler. At the time, it was a good addition as Fowler was coming off his best NFL season. However, he was not productive last season. This year, the Falcons will need more out of Fowler. In the draft this year, the Falcons selected Adetokunbo Ogundeji. As a rookie, Ogundeji will have a chance to get a good amount of playing time with a lack of good options for the Falcons at the edge position.

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