Edge rusher rankings for top 32 NFL EDGEs heading into 2022 led by Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt

The NFL's top 32 edge rushers in 2022 come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: They can get after opposing QBs.

Ranking the NFL’s top edge rushers in 2022 is a challenging task. The implementation of pass rushers varies greatly in the league, and they come in all shapes and sizes.

Preference is a large part of how the individual sees each player. Some prefer bendy and explosive outside rushers, even if they struggle against the run. Others covet more powerful edge setters who don’t put up consistent high-sack seasons but are integral run defenders who consistently pressure the QB.

Top NFL EDGEs in 2022

Note: Micah Parsons finished with 13 sacks, but he played more snaps in the box and as a coverage defender than rushing the passer. He will appear on the linebacker list but would have battled for the top five had he qualified for the EDGE rankings.

1) Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

If we ranked the pass rushers on who looked most intimidating walking off the bus, the Arlington Martin High School version of Myles Garrett might still be the top of the list. He is a one-of-one athlete at the position.

But he’s not just a muscle-bound “first off the bus” player. Only Watt and Robert Quinn sacked the QB more times last season, and he outperformed Watt in total pressures, win rate, and win rate on pure dropbacks. He also logged more high-quality sacks than Watt.

But it goes even deeper than that — Garrett was doubled more often than Watt last season and still had a higher pass-rush win rate than Watt and the highest in the league at 28%.

It was also the second straight season Garrett logged more elite-plus high-quality sacks than Watt. He’s posted 22 compared to 13, which helps back why many believe Garrett to be the superior player despite having less total sack production.

2) T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

T.J. Watt has led the league in sacks each of the past two seasons. Last year, he tied the NFL’s single-season sack record of 22.5 set (dubiously) by Michael Strahan.

But sacks alone aren’t the end-all, be-all of an EDGE defender. And while statistical breakdowns between Watt and Garrett are very close, it’s clear on tape that Garrett is the more impressive player overall. But we’re splitting hairs between All-Pros here.

Watt has continuously improved his game as a run defender. It used to be what held him back in the debate between him and Garrett. Now, only Garrett’s physical dominance and continued improvement as a technician keep him a half-step ahead of Watt.

And while his repertoire may not be as polished and his wins as impressive as Garrett’s, his never-ending pursuit puts him in a position to make plays on coverage and clean up opportunities. His 33 snaps per sack were four lower than Robert Quinn, who finished with the second-best mark.

3) Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

While Garrett and Watt might be just ahead of Nick Bosa in the rankings, that doesn’t mean the potential isn’t there for the younger sibling to become the best in the game.

Bosa was doubled more than both players despite playing on the best defensive line of the bunch in San Francisco. He posted three fewer total pressures than Garrett. While his win rate was slightly lower than Watt’s and cleanly behind Garrett, on true passing sets (no play-action), he split the two first-team All-Pros.

The Bosa brothers are similar players, but there is an apparent difference. Nick plays with strength more than his brother. He wins more often on inside and power rushes than as an outside rusher. And that is terrifying because he can still continue to develop his arc-rush toolbelt to truly unlock his potential.

His 75 pressures ranked fourth in the NFL, and his 151.5 sacks also ranked fourth in 2021.

4) Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

Nobody affected the quarterback more than Maxx Crosby last season. He’s one of the league’s best pass rushers and one of the most inspirational stories alongside teammate Darren Waller. His 101 total pressures were 20 more than the next closest competitor.

The Eastern Michigan product flashed outrageous athleticism and bend coming out of college but was raw. That’s no longer the case. As a pass rusher, Crosby is one of the most aesthetically pleasing in the game.

Nobody in the league can win outside more consistently than Crosby can. His cross-chop and rip are devastating. Then, he has the bend and explosion to flatten rush angles on the way to opposing quarterbacks.

Additionally, the defense these athletes play in matters, too. Gus Bradley called a soft Cover 3-heavy defense in 2021. The Raiders also lacked talent on the outside. There wasn’t much for quarterbacks to think about.

Patrick Graham could change that. While the Raiders still don’t have a ton of proven talent at cornerback, their coverage scheme should make quarterbacks think just a bit more pre- and post-snap.

It won’t be surprising if Crosby approaches the 20-sack mark in 2022.

5) Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers

The older Bosa brother is right on par with his younger sibling, but he also led the NFL in penalties as a designated pass rusher, along with Maxx Crosby. Meanwhile, Nick wasn’t penalized at all in 2021.

Bosa is arguably the cleanest technician of the group of elites. He is the most diverse in the group with his hands. He wins both inside and out and is also a strong run defender.

Bosa ranked seventh in win percentage on all rushes and sixth on straight dropbacks. He also managed to force six fumbles in 2021. And he did all this without much help on the defensive line. Now, he’ll have Khalil Mack, who is still one of the best in the game.

Bosa’s outside-rushing ability is most evident when he counters inside, particularly with his disgusting spin move.

top NFL edge rushers 2022
Jan 9, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) reacts after sacking the quarterback against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

6) Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints

Everyone in the back end of the top 10 list is an “old head” in the NFL. They’re all at least 31 years old and have years of high-quality play to back up their position on the list.

While it may be surprising to see Jordan at the top of that list, he’s only gotten better with age. After a down year in sacks during 2020, Jordan went on an absolute tear during the final four games of 2021, posting 8.5 sacks.

Jordan’s game is predicated on power and elite hand usage. His two sacks against the Buccaneers were outstanding, and he gave Tristan Wirfs some fits throughout the game because of his power.

He’s also one of the most consistent run defenders in the NFL and has been for most of his career. His sturdy frame and 35-inch arms make him an absolute menace setting the edge. And even at 32 years old, he still plays with his pants on fire in pursuit.

Oh, and that 11-year career only has two missed games in it, including just one last season, making him one of the most reliable players of our generation.

7) Von Miller, Buffalo Bills

Despite not putting together a double-digit sack season in 2021, it was abundantly clear that Von Miller is still one of the game’s best pass rushers. After coming out of the gates hot in Denver with 4.5 sacks in four games, he would go seven straight without one.

Maybe Miller was just pacing himself for the eventual playoff run. He played nearly 800 snaps in the regular season and almost 1000 at nearly 33 years old, including the playoffs.

And when the playoffs rolled around, Miller took us back to 2015, when he was the driving force on the Broncos’ championship defense. His ghost move remains the best “go-to” move in the game, and he sets it up incredibly well through the course of a contest.

But he’s also one of the best run defenders in the league. And for being only 250 pounds, it’s an incredible feat to see him old up on the edge.

8) Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Shaquil Barrett tied Nick Bosa and Trey Hendrickson with 75 pressures last season. The Tampa Bay outside linebacker has 37.5 sacks over the past three seasons. He’s also the only player in the top 10 who went undrafted. In fact, he’s the only one drafted outside of the fourth round.

He’s also a technically sound run defender and is sufficient in coverage when asked to defend the pass.

But this is about rushing the passer. And only T.J. Watt, Myles Garrett, and Aaron Donald have sacked the quarterback more over the past three seasons. And Barrett is the only player in the league to rank in the top five in pressures each season in that time. Not even Watt has accomplished that.

9) Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers

Mack only played in seven games last season and hasn’t had a double-digit sack season since 2018 — so how does he end up in the top 10 of the NFL’s EDGE rankings? Well, because he might still be the most well-rounded EDGE defender in the NFL.

Mack had six sacks in his seven games played for the Bears in 2021. While extrapolating small sample sizes is foolhardy, it doesn’t actually hurt anybody. Mack was “on pace” for double-digit sacks and 62 pressures.

He’s also consistently been the best run-defending EDGE in the league throughout his career. He’s densely built and powerful — it helps him set the edge and be a menace in the backfield.

10) Robert Quinn, Chicago Bears

Nobody is more fun to watch rush the passer than Robert Quinn. His blend of burst, bend, and hands off the edge is unmatched. Nobody is quite as dangerous up the arc. However, his pass-rushing productivity will always be volatile. He’s a great example of why pressures are a better barometer for future production than sacks are.

Because of the type of pass rusher Quinn is, he won’t consistently put pressure on the quarterback. He plays a finesse game, and if he doesn’t win almost instantly, blockers consume him.

He also struggles as a run defender because of those limitations, making him a bit one-dimensional. That’s why he’s at the bottom of the top 10 despite posting 18.5 sacks last season.

Top NFL EDGEs in 2022 | 11-32

11) Chandler Jones, Las Vegas Raiders
12) Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings
13) Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers
14) Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals
15) Za’Darius Smith, Minnesota Vikings
16) Matt Judon, New England Patriots
17) Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys
18) Haason Reddick, Philadelphia Eagles
19) Harold Landry, Tennessee Titans
20) J.J. Watt, Arizona Cardinals
21) Jadeveon Clowney, Cleveland Browns
22) Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers
23) Randy Gregory, Denver Broncos
24) Leonard Floyd, Los Angeles Rams
25) Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars
26) Chase Young, Washington Commanders
27) Kwity Paye, Indianapolis Colts
28) Montez Sweat, Washington Commanders
29) Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami Dolphins
30) Josh Sweat, Philadelphia Eagles
31) Yannick Ngakoue, Indianapolis Colts
32) Charles Harris, Detroit Lions

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