Top 10 EDGEs in the 2023 NFL Draft: Will Anderson Jr. Sits Atop a Talented Podium

We know Will Anderson Jr. is the top edge rusher in the 2023 NFL Draft right now. But who comes behind him, and could anyone challenge him for the throne?

The 2023 NFL Draft class offers an abundance of talented edge rushers. But midway through the 2022 season, who are the top ten edge rushers in the group? The list is headlined by over a half-dozen potential first-round picks. And the gap between EDGE1 and EDGE2 is thinning.

Top 10 EDGEs in the 2023 NFL Draft

10) Bralen Trice, Washington

In the preseason, another Washington edge rusher held this spot: Veteran Zion Tupuola-Fetui. He’s still a prospect worth knowing in a deep 2023 NFL Draft EDGE class. But in his stead, fourth-year rusher Bralen Trice has emerged as a true breakout for the Huskies and holds a spot in our updated top ten.

Trice has 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss to this point in the 2022 season. He’s been one of the most productive edge rushers in college football. Particularly as a pass rusher, he’s proven himself to be incredibly disruptive. It all stems from Trice’s natural power at 6’4″, 270 pounds.

Trice is essentially a block of aggression rushing the edge. A dense, hyper-compact ingot of energy, he surges into tackles and generates speed-to-power with brutal force. The imagery provided does serve a dual purpose.

Trice doesn’t have much bend to go with his burst and power. But as a big-bodied edge rusher with rare knock-back power and violent hands, he has plenty of appeal.

9) Andre Carter II, Army

Andre Carter II’s 2022 production pales in comparison to his 2021 campaign, which saw him stack up 41 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, an interception, two pass deflections, and four forced fumbles. But if the root of a player’s evaluation is his traits, Carter still brings plenty to like.

At 6’7″, 260 pounds, Carter is a rare athlete with elite length. Some players with that size struggle to lower themselves and manage their frame. But that’s not the case with Carter. For his build, he’s incredibly bendy and flexible, and he has the agility to both play in space and offset tackles on the rush.

Carter is one of the less refined pass rushers on this list. That was something that stood out in the summer, and it remains an area of needed growth. But Carter’s allotment of tools is so complete it’s hard to think the right NFL coach can’t turn him into a star.

8) Nolan Smith, Georgia

Nolan Smith will likely be one of the more polarizing 2023 NFL Draft prospects, should he declare this cycle after suffering a torn pectoral. He has all the background information you’d expect of a Round 1 pick — except the production and the profile.

None of this is to diminish Smith as a prospect. He’s still an early-round talent who could very well crack Round 1 if he’s able to test. He’s a quantifiably elite athlete and a former five-star recruit with rare burst and twitch, exciting bend capacity, and pursuit speed in space.

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However, as much as Smith has athleticism, he lacks elite length and power at 6’3″, 235 pounds. And while he shows off exceptional play strength and leveraging in run support, he’s still inconsistent converting on his traits as a pass rusher.

Smith’s upside is extremely high, but he’s also lacking elements like power and length, which could raise his floor early on in the NFL. Those same limitations all call into question his ceiling as a pure edge rusher. His best role might be in a hybrid SAM role, where he can both play in space and attack downhill down-to-down.

7) Jared Verse, Florida State

Above all things, the most important thing for an NFL Draft evaluator is to be accountable for themselves. If we miss, we’ll own up to it. All this is to say — Jared Verse is one prospect we might look back on and say we were too low on him here.

This ranking isn’t a slight to Verse in any sense. Rather, it’s a nod to the talent that remains on the list. But Verse has the tools to potentially be one of the first five edge rushers off the board, and he’s delivered on that talent with production in 2022.

With 5.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in eight games thus far, Verse has proven himself at the Power Five level after transferring from Albany. He clearly looks the part at 6’4″, 249 pounds, with high-end proportional length. But Verse’s ability to win with burst, bend, and methodical hand usage all in one is even more impressive.

6) B.J. Ojulari, LSU

B.J. Ojulari falls just outside the top five on this list. Nevertheless, he remains a potential first-round selection. And like his brother Azeez, who plays for the New York Giants, B.J. has the upside to be an impact starter at the NFL level.

Ojulari is a different mold than most of the rushers on this list. While many on this list boast power as their primary trait, Ojulari is a true finesse rusher at 6’3″, 244 pounds, with the swift explosiveness, lateral agility, and bend to be a nightmare for tackles who struggle to match.

It’s important to note that Ojulari has shown he can generate speed-to-power, as well as use strong hand moves to capitalize on his lateral athleticism. But the sheer mobility and the quickness at which Ojulari pressures angles is what sells his profile the most. Playing outside the tackle, he’s too much to deal with at his best.

5) Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State

He might not quite have the top-end traits that the top four EDGE prospects have. But if you’re looking for truly clinical pass-rushing tape, you can’t do much better than Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah.

That first sentence isn’t meant to dilute Anudike-Uzomah’s raw traits. He does have exceptional burst and twitch, and enough length to channel power and drive through blockers.

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And of the top five, he might have the best bend and control. He’s still an early-round prospect. But Anudike-Uzomah builds off of that foundation better than most, with ruthless hand usage.

Few edge defenders manipulate tackles with more intent and more ferocity than Anudike-Uzomah. He has a plethora of counters and move combinations visible on tape — inside-outside moves, bull-rush-swims, euro-step, and double-swipes.

He can put tackles on a string, and if you send help with an RB, he’ll bowl through them with similar aggression.

4) Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame

Between the third and fourth spots on this list, we’re truly splitting hairs. All four of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft EDGE class are first-round talents. Isaiah Foskey gets moved down slightly due to the emergence of a particular Texas Tech star — but he’s very much still a high-level player.

Foskey’s 2022 campaign has been hot and cold at times. He started out a bit slow out of the gate, had a lull midway through the season, and hasn’t quite shown the consistency we expected out of him. He also struggles to roll his hips through the apex at times — a limitation that stood out in summer film.

But it’s our job as scouts to nitpick the small details. When you turn back to the bird’s eye view, you see a future NFL starter and a potential impact player with Foskey.

His explosiveness and foot speed off the line are still elite at 6’5″, 260 pounds. He still flashes brutal, surgical hand usage against tackles and has one of the vastest arsenals in the class.

3) Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

In the summer, Tyree Wilson was a sleeper with incredible upside but largely unrealized potential. Over the course of the 2022 season, he’s started to climb toward that astronomical ceiling before our very eyes.

In just nine games, Wilson has already eclipsed his production from a full 2021 campaign. He has 59 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, seven sacks, a forced fumble, and droves of pressures beyond the surface stats.

Bluntly, Wilson has been a menace for Big 12 teams, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s an elite physical specimen with a 6’6″, 275-pound frame, near-36″ arms, deadly long-track explosiveness off the line, and flashes of rare torso flexibility for his size.

With his size, length, and burst, there simply aren’t many players that currently play — or have ever played — that can generate the kind of raw power Wilson can. Power and aggression are two traits Wilson builds his game around. And as he continues to add to his arsenal, his stock will only keep soaring higher into Round 1.

2) Myles Murphy, Clemson

The EDGE1 title hasn’t changed hands yet this season. But there’s reason to believe Clemson edge rusher Myles Murphy has closed the gap on his early first-round counterpart.

Murphy has 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss so far this year, bringing his three-year career totals to an astounding 35 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks. It’s impressive production, but Murphy is perhaps one of the most disruptive edge rushers, even beyond his sack production.

On tape, Murphy is constantly crumbling pockets from the outside with his rare power capacity. Not only does he have elite raw power at 6’5″, 275 pounds, but he’s also improved drastically at leveraging power and stringing moves off of power exertions.

The power alone commands awe, but Murphy brings so much more to offer beyond that, too. As an athlete, he has uncommon burst and foot speed for his size, as well as lateral agility to stress gaps.

It’s not brash to say, as an all-encompassing physical talent, Murphy is more imposing than Anderson. And if he continues to refine his game, EDGE1 might not be locked up.

1) Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

Will Anderson Jr. remains EDGE1 in the 2023 NFL Draft on PFN’s Big Board. But it’s important not to insulate this distinction with layers of hyperbole. In the summer, Anderson was essentially undisputed at this point. Now, there may be growing arguments for other players.

All this being said, Anderson hasn’t done much to deflate his stock in 2022. He hasn’t taken the leap into an elite pass rusher that many desired, and at times, tackling form is an issue in pursuit. But he still remains a blue-chip prospect who’s too good to overthink as a top-five selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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With Anderson, you have an extremely dangerous mix of explosiveness, lateral agility, amped-up hand usage, and unnatural relative play strength, molded together by a monstrous, energetic motor that inflames his playmaking imprint.

Anderson hasn’t quite matched his 2021 production this season, but on tape, the traits are still very much on his side. Especially as a 3-4 OLB in two-point stances, he has the potential to be a two-phase game-wrecker in the NFL.

Honorable mentions

  • K.J. Henry, Clemson
  • Isaiah McGuire, Missouri
  • Mike Morris, Michigan
  • Derick Hall Jr., Auburn
  • Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
  • Brenton Cox Jr., Florida
  • Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
  • Byron Young, Tennessee
  • Zach Harrison, Ohio State
  • Habakkuk Baldonado, Pittsburgh

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