Cleveland Browns pass-rusher Myles Garrett is one of the top edge rushers in the NFL entering the 2020 season, and typically gets the recognition he deserves. Pro Football Network’s Matt Williamson recently released his top 25 edge rushers for 2020, and Garrett placed very highly on the list. The big question is whether is ranking is too high, too low, or just right?
Is Garrett’s ranking among the top edge rusher for 2020 correct?
The two players ahead of Garrett
Williamson ranked Garrett third in the league, behind only Chandler Jones and Khalil Mack. Both are excellent players whose impact is not fully shown on the stat sheet, much like Garrett. Pure sacks is not a good way to properly evaluate an edge defender, and Williamson doesn’t do that.
Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals
It’s rare that a player leaves the New England Patriots and actually performs better than he did under Bill Belichick, but that’s what Jones has done. Since 2012, he’s racked up 96 sacks, which leads the league, and has dominated for Arizona over the past four seasons. Even with all that production, he’s been a Pro Bowler only three times and an All-Pro just twice.
In 2019, Jones finished second in the NFL in sacks with 19, and generated 75 pressures on 615 snaps, giving him a 12.2% pressure rate. Not exceptional, but very good. Jones also plays the run well, something that not all great pass-rushers can say. Jones deserves to be high on this list, although putting him ahead of Garrett may be a bit rich.
Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
Since the 2015 season, Mack has been one of the game’s premier defensive players. He’s made five consecutive Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams, totaling 61.5 sacks throughout his six campaigns. He’s an excellent run stopper and an even better pass-rusher; the Bears gave up a lot of draft and financial capital to acquire him in 2018, and he hasn’t disappointed. He had 70 pressures on 531 pass-rush snaps last season, giving him a 13.2% pressure rate. If there is one EDGE who deserves to be ranked ahead of Garrett, it’s Mack.
What makes Garrett so special?
There are few players at any position in the NFL as physically dominant as Garrett. He’s 6-4 272 pounds of pure muscle, built like a comic book superhero, with legendary athleticism. He’s logged 30.5 sacks over his first 37 NFL games, which puts him ahead of all-time sack leader Bruce Smith by 4.5. Expecting Garrett to break that all-time sack record is unrealistic, but there’s no denying he’s on the right trajectory.
That is the scary (if you’re not a Browns player, coach, or fan) part. Garrett is already this good, and he still has some way to go in his development. He won’t turn 25 until December and is now under contract with Cleveland through to the 2026 season.
Where can Garrett still improve?
Technically, Garrett is still somewhat unrefined, relying on his vastly superior burst, bend, and strength to beat offensive linemen. Usually, players aren’t able to get away with that in the NFL, but Garett is just that good of an athlete. Once he learns how to properly use his hands and string together pass-rush moves and counters, he’ll become nearly unstoppable.
And with all that said, he still has an excellent argument to the title of league’s best EDGE. Garrett may not be a dominant run defender (yet), but he’s unique in that area. He has plenty of room to be even better and will be heavily relied upon in the run game as the Browns are expected to use only one or two linebackers most of the time.
Garrett is a unique talent
When he pins his ears back and rushes the passer, Garrett is a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. He generated 49 pressures on 324 pass-rush snaps in 2019, giving him a 15.2% pressure rate, which tops both Jones and Mack by a significant margin. Myles Garrett, top edge rusher in 2020 has a ring to it. In 2019, he had 10 sacks in 10 games and would have likely been a Defensive Player of the Year finalist had he not been suspended for the final six games.
Now that Garrett has been reinstated and is ready to put that incident behind him, expect him to come back with a vengeance in 2020, and cement his status as the top edge rusher in the NFL.