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Best edge defenders available in the 2021 NFL Draft and free agency

Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (99) smiles after the team’s 42-16 win over the Buffalo Bills at Nissan Stadium Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Gw45496

It’s officially team-building season for the NFL, and that means all 32 franchises are spending countless hours figuring out how to shape their rosters for 2021 and beyond. And one of the big decisions is whether to address positions of need via the 2021 NFL Draft, the upcoming free-agency period or the trade market.

Teams assess their weaknesses and look at all potential options in a given position group. In this series, we’ll investigate the strengths and weaknesses of all positions this offseason, with an eye toward the draft, free agency and the potential trade options.

Here’s a look at the 2021 edge defender market.

[Editor's note: Download the DraftKings Sportsbook app and use promo code PFF when you sign up to turn $1 into $100 if any QB scores a rushing or receiving touchdown this weekend! Click here to play at DraftKings Sportsbook.]

Best edge defenders Available via Free Agency (Free-Agent board rank)

  1.     Shaquil Barrett (15)
  2.     Carl Lawson (28)
  3.     Jadeveon Clowney (31)
  4.     Yannick Ngakoue (46)
  5.     Melvin Ingram III (55)
  6.     Bud Dupree (56)
  7.     Leonard Floyd (59)
  8.     Trey Hendrickson (60)
  9.     Matthew Judon (74)
  10.     Aldon Smith (75)

Editor's note: PFF’s 2021 NFL free-agency rankings offer three-year player grades, updated contract information, in-depth player analysis and PFF’s newly developed Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric for all of the top NFL free agents. Click here to view the full list.

One of the biggest mistakes teams make in free agency is paying for previous sack totals rather than paying for future production. Of course, this is true at many positions when it comes to free-agent value, but PFF pass-rushing grade makes it very easy to separate down-to-down pass-rush production from inflated sack totals. That said, there are several “buyer beware” pass-rushers on the market this year.

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