NFL EDGE Rankings 2024: T.J. Watt at No. 2, Thoughts on Top Rookies

With free agency and the draft behind us, we've updated our NFL EDGE rankings. Micah Parsons earns the top spot, but T.J. Watt isn't far behind.

What, exactly, is an NFL edge defender?

Is it a traditional defensive end? Is it an outside linebacker? The answer doesn’t really matter, as a good edge defender is someone who lines up outside the formation, is stout against the run, and is effective as a pass rusher. And, especially in today’s NFL, they must set a strong edge and stay disciplined against athletic quarterbacks.

With that in mind, and with free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft both in the rearview mirror, we’ve updated our NFL EDGE rankings.

Offense: QB | RB | WR | TE
Defense: DTCB | S

Who Is the Best EDGE in the NFL?

Note: None of the edge rushers selected in the 2024 NFL Draft made this list, as there isn’t enough data. However, we’ve added a section highlighting some of the more notable rookies at the end.

1) Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

Micah Parsons is one of those generational talents who, from year to year, might not have the top stats or win the top awards at his position. As such, people will make arguments for other players ranking ahead of him.

But don’t overthink it. Parsons is the best edge defender in the NFL and might be the best defensive player in the game.

Parsons’ career-high 14 sacks were tied for the seventh-most in football last season. However, he posted the league’s highest pass-rush win rate despite facing the highest percentage of double teams. Case closed.

NFL EDGE Rankings | 2-15

2) T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

You certainly could argue for Myles Garrett in this spot. He edges T.J. Watt in most advanced metrics and just won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Plus, sacks aren’t the end-all-be-all in judging edge rushers.

But Watt’s production is too impressive. He led the NFL in sacks in three of the last four seasons, including a 19-sack campaign in 2023. Watt has 96.5 sacks in seven seasons, good for an average of 13.8. That’s ridiculous.

3) Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

Garrett couldn’t rank any lower than third. And many people believe he’s the best edge defender in all of football.

Garrett does everything. He defends the run at a high level and is among the NFL’s best pass rushers (at least 14 sacks in three straight seasons). If you’re into Pro Football Focus rankings, which should be taken with a grain of salt, Garrett was PFF’s highest-graded EDGE in each of the last three seasons.

4) Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

Maxx Crosby just keeps getting better. His sack totals have gone up every season since 2020, including 14.5 in 2023, and he might be the best run-defending EDGE in football.

Crosby also led the league in tackles for loss the last two seasons while topping 1,000 defensive snaps in both campaigns. He’s the face of the Raiders and one of the best players in the game.

5) Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

That Nick Bosa ranks fifth on this list speaks to the incredible EDGE talent in today’s NFL. At times, he looks like the best edge defender in the game.

A beast against the run and in pass rush, Bosa is coming off a relatively down season that saw him post 10.5 sacks after leading the league with 18.5 in 2022. He’s just 26 years old, though, and could be primed for a huge bounce-back season.

6) Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions

Think the Jacksonville Jaguars regret taking Travon Walker first overall in 2022?

Walker is a good, promising player. But Aidan Hutchinson, the second pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is far superior. A tenacious defender who’s the face of Detroit’s defense, Hutchinson posted 11.5 sacks in 2023 while showing significant improvement against the run. He could rank even higher on next year’s list.

7) Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals

Trey Hendrickson isn’t great against the run, and we won’t argue with those who say he should be further down this list. However, his excellence as a pass rusher more than makes up for his shortcomings in run defense.

Hendrickson posted a career-best 17.5 sacks in 2023, tied for second most in the NFL. He also ranked 10th in pass-rush win rate while facing the ninth-highest double-team percentage. It might be a hot take, but we think Hendrickson is one of the 10 best edge defenders in the NFL.

MORE: Who Are the NFL’s Highest-Paid EDGEs?

8) Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars

The other Josh Allen is a star in his own right.

Allen, who posted 7.5 and 7.0 sacks in 2021 and 2022, respectively, broke out in 2023 with 17.5. He also registered career-bests in QB hits (33) and tackles for loss (17).

Allen is great against the run, strengthening his case as one of the best edge players in the game.

9) Matthew Judon, New England Patriots

It’s easy to forget about Matthew Judon’s greatness since he missed most of last season after suffering a torn biceps. Plus, it’s fair to wonder how he’ll look coming off that injury while playing at 32 years old.

But Judon was his usual, dominant self before suffering the injury. He posted four sacks in three-plus games, putting him on pace to set a new career high. The Patriots’ sacks leader in 2021 (12.5) and 2022 (15.5), Judon should post big numbers in 2024 if he can stay healthy.

10) Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers

Someone forgot to tell Khalil Mack that he was washed up. Once one of the NFL’s best defenders, Mack failed to top 8.5 sacks in any season from 2019 through 2022. But he turned back the clock in 2023, racking up 17 sacks while playing great run defense for the Chargers.

Yes, Mack is 33 years old, but he’s still a great player.

11) Danielle Hunter, Houston Texans

Danielle Hunter isn’t great against the run — and you wouldn’t call him an analytics darling — but you can’t argue with the production.

Hunter topped 14.5 sacks in three of the last five seasons, including a career-best 16.5 sacks in 2023. Now with the Texans, Hunter should form a great pass-rushing duo with youngster Will Anderson Jr.

12) Brian Burns, New York Giants

Brian Burns might not be a star, but he’s pretty close. Solid against the run, Burns is also among the more consistent pass rushers in the game. He posted at least 7.5 sacks in each of his five seasons with the Carolina Panthers, including 2023, when he registered the NFL’s 11th-best pass-rush win rate.

Burns was traded to the Giants in March and now is in New York on a long-term contract. Expect big things in 2024.

13) Will Anderson Jr., Houston Texans

Anderson lived up to the hype in his rookie season. The third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, he posted seven sacks, 22 QB hits, and 10 tackles for a loss. He also earned the league’s third-best pass-rush win rate and ranked in the top 10 in double-team percentage.

Anderson is one of the top young edge defenders in the game.

KEEP READING: EDGES Picked in the 2024 NFL Draft

14) Alex Highsmith, Pittsburgh Steelers

Often overshadowed by his superstar teammate, Alex Highsmith isn’t as good as Watt, but he’s still an excellent edge player. Highsmith is great against the run and capable of posting big sack numbers, evidenced by his 14.5 sacks in 2022. Highsmith earned a 21% pass-rush win rate in 2023, tied for 10th-best in the NFL.

15) Bradley Chubb, Miami Dolphins

Bradley Chubb wasn’t great for the Dolphins after being acquired via trade with the Denver Broncos in 2022. But he rebounded in 2023, registering 11 sacks while forcing a league-high six fumbles. Chubb also tied for the league’s sixth-best pass-rush win rate.

However, Chubb, who’ll turn 28 in June, tore his ACL in Week 17. Will he be the same player upon his return? We’ll just have to wait and see.

NFL EDGE Rankings | 16-33

16) Haason Reddick, New York Jets
17) Jonathan Greenard, Minnesota Vikings
18) Samson Ebukam, Indianapolis Colts
19) Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers
20) Montez Sweat, Chicago Bears
21) Bryce Huff, Philadelphia Eagles
22) Jermaine Johnson, New York Jets
23) Josh Sweat, Philadelphia Eagles
24) Jadeveon Clowney, Carolina Panthers
25) DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys
26) Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins
27) Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers
28) Denico Autry, Houston Texans
29) Andrew Van Ginkel, Minnesota Vikings
30) Greg Rousseau, Buffalo Bills
31) Arden Key, Tennessee Titans
32) Za’Darius Smith, Cleveland Browns
33) Chase Young, New Orleans Saints

Unranked Rookie Edge Rushers

  • Laiatu Latu, Indianapolis Colts
    Many viewed Laiatu Latu as the best pure pass rusher in this year’s class, but he was removed from some teams’ boards due to a neck issue. The Colts took a gamble by selecting Latu with the 15th overall pick, but if the UCLA product stays on the field, he could be a star.
  • Dallas Turner, Minnesota Vikings
    Considered a top-10 talent, Dallas Turner was eventually selected 17th overall by the Vikings, who traded up to draft him. There are some questions about Turner’s physicality, but he’s an elite athlete with massive upside.
  • Jared Verse, Los Angeles Rams
    The 16th overall pick, Jared Verse was arguably the best all-around EDGE prospect in the draft. He projects as a top-notch run defender who also could pile up the sacks.
  • Chop Robinson, Miami Dolphins
    The Dolphins lost star edge rushers Jaelan Phillips and Chubb to season-ending injuries last season, and Andrew Van Ginkel left in free agency. So, EDGE was a sneaky roster hole for the Dolphins, who filled it with Chop Robinson, one of the top defensive prospects in the draft.
  • Darius Robinson, Arizona Cardinals
    Darius Robinson has inside-outside versatility, which is exactly what the Cardinals needed. Arizona found excellent value in selecting Robinson with the 30th pick in Round 1.

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