College News & Analysis

2022 NFL Draft Position Rankings: Edge defenders

This is a fantastic edge class. The 2022 NFL Draft is chock full of pass-rushing talent at the top of the class and deep into Day 2. Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux will compete for the No. 1 overall pick, and at least four others should come off the board in the first 50 picks.

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1. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

BIG BOARD RANK: 1

Call it an overreaction to the weekend if you want, but I see it as more of a culmination. Hutchinson has been playing the elite brand of football we saw against Ohio State all season, but this past weekend's showing just happened to come on the biggest stage against arguably the best tackle he’s faced all year in Nicholas Petit-Frere. Hutchinson finished with 15 pressures against the Buckeyes in Week 13 and is the highest-graded defender in the country.

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

BIG BOARD RANK: 2

Thibodeaux is an explosive, long and bendy edge rusher who’s only just scratching the surface of what he could be. Thibodeaux has a 91.5 pass-rushing grade and 46 pressures this season, even with a limited set of pass-rush moves.

3. George Karlaftis, Purdue

BIG BOARD RANK: 7

Karlaftis is an ultra-consistent iron man at defensive end and has played 667 snaps in 12 games this season. At 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, Karlaftis has the kind of inside-outside versatility that will be coveted.

4. David Ojabo, Michigan

BIG BOARD RANK: 15

If you called this breakout from Ojabo, I don’t believe you. After playing only 26 snaps in all of his Michigan career before 2021, Ojabo has broken out with an 89.3 pass-rushing grade this season.

5. Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina

BIG BOARD RANK: 26

Enagbare isn’t a spectacular athlete but wins with his elite length and hand usage, so much so that he’s barely behind the likes of Aidan Hutchinson with a 92.4 pass-rushing grade this season.

6. Drake Jackson, USC

BIG BOARD RANK: 29

Despite a late-season injury, Jackson proved earlier on that he’s taken a significant next step in his development. He’s gone from a 66.6 pass-rushing grade as a sophomore to 87.7 this season.

7. Arnold Ebeketie, Penn State

BIG BOARD RANK: 37

Ebiketie transferred from Temple to Penn State and proved his production from 2020 was no fluke. He beat up on quality tackles en route to a 90.5 pass-rushing grade and 52 pressures.

8. Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

BIG BOARD RANK: 43

Johnson transferred from Georgia so he could see the field. And he pretty much never came off at Florida State, playing a ridiculous 736 snaps this season. He’s a hard-edge-setter who has edge-rushing tools that can translate to the league.

9. Cameron Thomas, San Diego State

BIG BOARD RANK: 44

Thomas is a massive power end at 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds. He racked up an FBS-leading 72 pressures this season and finished sixth with 29 run stops.

10. Travon Walker, Georgia

BIG BOARD RANK: 45

Walker is an elite physical specimen for a 6-foot-5, 275-pounder. So much so that he’s dropped into coverage this season and managed a pass breakup. He’s still figuring out how to rush the passer, but you can’t teach what he has.

11. Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

BIG BOARD RANK: 48

Sanders is still only scratching the surface of what he could be. He’s got only a handful of pass-rushing moves, but he has the 6-foot-5, 255-pound frame and the juice to translate to the NFL. He’s seen his grade take a bit of a step back to 83.5 overall this season.

12. Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma

BIG BOARD RANK: 55

Bonitto may be a designated pass-rusher at the NFL level, but he’ll be a weapon in that regard from Day 1. He’s been the most productive pass-rusher on a per-snap basis over the past two seasons, earning a 93.6 pass-rushing grade in 2020 and a 92.5 pass-rush grade this season.

13. Zach Harrison, Ohio State

BIG BOARD RANK: 73

Harrison’s physical tools haven’t quite matched his on-field production of late. He’s 6-foot-6, 272 pounds with long arms and a legit get-off. He ran very hot and cold this year and had five games with one or fewer pressures.

14. Alex Wright, UAB

BIG BOARD RANK: 74

Wright is a prodigiously large defensive end at 6-foot-7, 270 pounds. He bowled over most tackles he faced last season en route to 51 pressures.

15. Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame

BIG BOARD RANK: 98

Foskey consistently collapsed pockets for the Irish in his first year as a full-time starter in 2021. His sack totals, however, were a little inflated, as he finished with 10 sacks yet only a 76.9 pass-rushing grade.

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