EDGEs Drafted in 2023 NFL Draft

There were many EDGE defenders selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Who were they, and how did they perform as rookies?

Which EDGEs were drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft? Who were the teams that drafted those EDGEs, and how does the 2023 class compare to previous years?

Which EDGEs Were Drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft?

Will Anderson Jr., Alabama | Houston Texans

Round 1, Pick 3

The Houston Texans took quarterback C.J. Stroud second overall and then came back and traded for the third overall pick to take EDGE Will Anderson Jr.; Anderson’s grade lands him in the blue-chip range — exalted company in any class.

On PFN Draft Analyst Ian Cummings’ board, he was the top overall prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft when accounting for positional value. Because of the need for QBs at the top of the board, he didn’t go first overall, but he was the favorite to be — and ultimately was — the first non-QB taken in April, and for good reason.

KEEP READING: Will Anderson Jr. Wins AP Defensive Rookie of the Year 

Anderson racked up 7.0 sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss. He did this as a freshman for Alabama during their 13-0 CFP National Championship season. It was clear from an early edge that Anderson had immense upside.

The Texans clearly believed in Anderson, trading up to select him No. 3 overall. All Anderson did was register 45 combined tackles, seven sacks, and 22 QB hits, en route to Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He immediately established himself as a defensive force and one of the best pass rushers in the league.

Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech | Las Vegas Raiders

Round 1, Pick 7

Tyree Wilson has the tools to buoy a blue-chip ceiling, and his grade reflected that. In the 2023 NFL Draft, he was a borderline top-10 prospect on Cummings’ board who was deserving of early first-round capital. He’s not EDGE1 — that honor went to Anderson.

Wilson is still far from a finished product. At his size, he can still be more consistent with his leverage acquisition and management, and his hand usage also remains a work in progress. That said, Wilson is trending up in both areas, and as long as he can keep driving his power effectively and keep employing hand combinations with greater speed and consistency, he has game-wrecking potential.

Those abilities were not on full display in his rookie season, though. Wilson was not able to earn a starting role. He recorded 29 combined tackles and 3.5 sacks. Wilson will have to be better in his sophomore season.

Lukas Van Ness, Iowa | Green Bay Packers

Round 1, Pick 13

Lukas Van Ness graded as a surefire Round 1 prospect with high-end versatility and raw talent. Top 10 wasn’t out of the question for him, especially after his athletic testing. Ultimately, he landed 13th.

Van Ness was unable to earn more than a 50% snap share in any game as a rookie. However, he did appear in all of them and had a rotational role. Van Ness totaled 32 combined tackles and four sacks.

Will McDonald IV, Iowa State | New York Jets

Round 1, Pick 15

Will McDonald IV’s athletic testing and Senior Bowl performance undoubtedly helped him, but there was still the matter of projection when it came to McDonald’s full evaluation.

On tape, McDonald has an abundance of extremely desirable athletic and physical qualities. He has elite proportional length for his frame to go along with high-level explosiveness, agility, twitch, and flexibility. He has a great motor as well and flashes nuance with his pass-rush plan.

That said, strength is a big drawback for McDonald. On film, he’s easily moved in run defense with his lighter base, and he doesn’t show the hand strength to consistently deconstruct blocks. A role change in the NFL should help, however. He was misused by Iowa State at 4i and 5-tech and projects much better as a stand-up EDGE outside the tackle.

In his rookie year, McDonald recorded 14 combined tackles while registering three sacks and five QB hits. Given the depth of the New York Jets’ defensive line, McDonald was unable to earn a regular weekly role. As a result, that limited his production. It also means the jury is still out on him. McDonald needs to earn more playing time as a sophomore to justify the draft capital the Jets spent on him.

Myles Murphy, Clemson | Cincinnati Bengals

Round 1, Pick 28

On Cummings’ board, Myles Murphy graded as a top-10 prospect, one of the best EDGE prospects in the class, and a potential blue-chip addition to an NFL defense, with some added development.

Murphy isn’t quite in the blue-chip tier as a prospect, but he’s in the next level down. At his size, with his length and frame density, he brings impressive power capacity, and he knows how to apply it with proper leverage and energy loading. And with that size, Murphy is an incredible athlete who brings near-elite explosiveness, linear movement speed, and violence with his hands.

Murphy’s ceiling is incredibly high, but a lack of elite change-of-direction skill and hip flexibility slightly lowers his ultimate cap. Additionally, while he has an excellent arsenal of power moves, he can still more consistently stack counters on top of power exertions. Particularly without elite hip flexibility, his margin for error will be smaller as a hand fighter in the NFL.

As a rookie, Murphy played sparingly for most of the season. It wasn’t until the final three weeks that he crested a 60% snap share in a single game. Overall, he managed to record three sacks, three QB hits, and 20 combined tackles.

Nolan Smith, Georgia | Philadelphia Eagles

Round 1, Pick 30

If you have a vision for Nolan Smith’s role and development at the next level, the tools are almost second to none. In the right scheme and role, he could be a true defensive catalyst with more time to grow.

There is a bit of a disconnect between Smith’s buzz as a prospect and his on-field production. His brand of athleticism would normally bill him as a special pass-rushing threat because he has hyper-elite burst and bend capacity. But right now, he’s still relatively underdeveloped as a hand fighter. He can be more consistent and efficient employing his athleticism, and his speed to power, while solid, is hindered at times by his lack of elite mass and length.

Unfortunately, Smith’s rookie season was a bit of a nonstarter. Excluding a Week 18 game where the Philadelphia Eagles pulled starters at halftime, Smith averaged fewer than nine snaps per game as a rookie. He registered just 18 combined tackles and one sack. Time will tell if Smith can become a starting linebacker and justify his draft position.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State | Kansas City Chiefs

Round 1, Pick 31

Felix Anudike-Uzomah’s combination of motor, explosiveness, lateral agility, bevy of pass-rush moves, and, most importantly, wherewithal to use them effectively were supposed to earn him the opportunity to see the field as a situational pass rusher early in his career. However, that wasn’t the case as a rookie.

Anudike-Uzomah averaged around 30% of the snaps for the first five weeks of the season. Then, when rookies typically see their playing time ramp up, FAU’s went in the opposite direction. He played single-digit snaps in all but one game over the remainder of the season, excluding Week 18 when the Kansas City Chiefs rested starters.

Derick Hall, Auburn | Seattle Seahawks

Round 2, Pick 37

Derrick Hall received a top-32 grade on Cummings’ board. His profile is unique because he has a mix of both high-floor and high-upside traits. He doesn’t quite have elite bend capacity, but he’s an explosive, powerful EDGE with a rare mix of natural leverage and proportional length. He also has the hand strength and motor to be a constant threat.

Despite playing all 17 games, Hall played primarily on special teams. He didn’t hit a 40% defensive snap share in a single game. Hall recorded 38 combined tackles and five QB hits as a rookie.

Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame | New Orleans Saints

Round 2, Pick 40

At his maximum, Isaiah Foskey has legitimate blue-chip upside. Foskey’s size at 6’5″, 264 pounds, with 34″ arms, is incredibly unique. With that size, he’s an elite athlete with torrid explosiveness and amped-up energy off the snap. His mix of burst and length grants him elite maximum power capacity, and he’s shown to utilize all of his tools with his deep pass-rush arsenal.

Foskey will need to keep minimizing the drift of his pad level after contact and keep honing his precision as a pass rusher. Consistency is the name of the game for Foskey, who can use all the moves but sometimes leaves opportunities on the table. Additionally, with his high-cut frame, he doesn’t always effectively align his base on power exertions, nor does he have elite bend capacity.

In his rookie year, Foskey was unable to earn meaningful playing time. He only appeared in 10 games and played more than 12 snaps just once. He recorded nine combined tackles and no sacks.

BJ Ojulari, LSU | Arizona Cardinals

Round 2, Pick 41

There’s a lot to like about BJ Ojulari. His upside is tantalizing, stemming from his impressive athletic and long build. Rushing the passer with speed is his specialty.

Ojulari is best as a two-point stance OLB or wide-nine DE, offering him space to operate. He doesn’t offer much versatility beyond that due to his limited play strength.

With that said, Ojulari’s rookie year wasn’t a total disaster. He didn’t play much to start the season but saw his usage ramp up over the second half. Ojulari sacked the quarterback four times while totaling six QB hits and 40 combined tackles.

Keion White, Georgia Tech | New England Patriots

Round 2, Pick 46

At 6’5″, 286 pounds, Keion White is a unicorn athletically with convention-crashing size and length to go along with near-elite explosiveness, agility, and dominating power capacity and strength. His ability to violently unleash into contact makes him a nightmare off the snap, and his power-rushing arsenal can overwhelm tackles.

He played considerably more in his rookie year than a bunch of the guys drafted before him. He played more than half the snaps in just about every game over the second half of the season and even crested an 80% snap share twice. White registered one sack and 26 combined tackles.

Tuli Tuipulotu, USC | Los Angeles Chargers

Round 2, Pick 54

It’s important to note what some of Tuli Tuipulotu’s mild limitations are. His torso stiffness can be an issue at times, and while he has exceptional size, strength, power, and burst, he’s arguably short of the quantifiably elite mark in all of those areas. He also has room to further maximize his hand usage as well as more consistently manage his leverage.

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Even so, that same mix of exceptional traits boosts Tuipulotu’s appeal — especially for teams that value versatility on the line and employ hybrid fronts. He’s a player you can move around based on matchups and situational factors, and he’s impressively natural off the edge for his size.

Like White, Tuipulotu also earned more playing time and performed better than several of the guys who were drafted ahead of him. He totaled 53 combined tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 12 QB hits. Tuipoulotu quickly established himself as a force defending the run game.

Rounds 3-7

14) Zach Harrison, Ohio State
Round 3, Pick 75 | Falcons

15) Byron Young, Tennessee
Round 3, Pick 77 | Rams

16) DJ Johnson, Oregon
Round 3, Pick 80 | Panthers

17) YaYa Diaby, Louisville
Round 3, Pick 82 | Buccaneers

18) Dylan Horton, TCU
Round 4, Pick 109 | Texans

19) Colby Wooden, Auburn
Round 4, Pick 116 | Packers

20) Tavius Robinson, Ole Miss
Round 4, Pick 124 | Ravens

21) Isaiah McGuire, Missouri
Round 4, Pick 126 | Browns

22) Viliami Fehoko, San Jose State
Round 4, Pick 129 | Cowboys

23) Tyler Lacy, Oklahoma State
Round 4, Pick 130 | Jaguars

24) Nick Herbig, Wisonsin
Round 4, Pick 132 | Steelers

25) Yasir Abdullah, Louisville
Round 5, Pick 136 | Jaguars

26) K.J. Henry, Clemson
Round 5, Pick 137 | Commanders

27) Mike Morris, Michigan
Round 5, Pick 151 | Seahawks

28) Nick Hampton, Appalachian State
Round 5, Pick 161 | Rams

29) Robert Beal Jr., Georgia
Round 5, Pick 173 | 49ers

30) Ochaun Mathis, Nebraska
Round 6, Pick 189 | Rams

31) Jose Ramirez, Eastern Michigan
Round 6, 196 | Buccaneers

32) Derek Parish, Houston
Round 7, Pick 240 | Jaguars

33) Desjuan Johnson, Toledo
Round 7, Pick 259

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