• Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett in a tier of their own: The two star pass-rushers both have strong cases to be in the No. 1 spot through 12 weeks of action.
• Eagles lead the way with three ranked edge defenders: Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham and Haason Reddick form one of the NFL's most formidable pass-rush units.
• John Franklin-Myers, Sam Hubbard among underrated EDGEs: Neither is topping the charts in sacks, but the underlying metrics suggest both are having fantastic 2022 seasons thus far.
Estimated Reading Time: 12 mins
Editor's note: Snap count minimums exclude players such as T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa and Chase Young, among others, from these rankings. These rankings are solely based on player production in 2022 through Week 12.
Garrett leads the NFL in pass-rush grade (93.7) and win rate (26.4%) among qualifying edge defenders. In addition, he has a pass-rush win rate of 35.2% on true pass sets, which also leads the NFL. He’s already recorded double-digit sacks (10.0) for the fifth straight year and is well on his way to another All-Pro selection. Garrett is the best pure pass-rusher in the league, and he's showing it again this season.
After a historic rookie season, Parsons has been even better in 2022. He already has six games with multiple sacks and boasts the second-highest pass-rush grade among edge rushers (91.7). Parsons is aided by his scheme a little bit more than Garrett, but he is a better run-defender and can also play linebacker in a pinch at a high level. Parsons has also performed very well against established offensive tackles, including Jonah Williams, Andrew Thomas (twice) and Christian Darrisaw.
Micah Parsons' 1st quarter strip sack of Kirk Cousins was a huge play that really set for the entire game. Having said that, the actual strip sack is the least exciting part to me.
Therefore, let's dive into how Parsons was able to get past Christian Darrisaw to get there:
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) November 21, 2022
Parsons is currently the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year, and it’s not hard to see why after he's recorded 12 sacks in 11 games this season. You could easily argue that Parsons should be at No. 1 on this list, but it's clear that he and Garrett are in a tier of their own at this point.
After Garrett and Parsons, the NFL's next-best edge rusher this season has been Nick Bosa. He's the fourth-highest-graded player at the position (89.8) on the year, but he is the highest-graded run-defender in the league (86.5). Bosa also has the NFL’s second-best win rate (24.3) — behind only Garrett — and is second in pressures (55). It’s been another fantastic year for the former No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
After Nick Bosa, you can make a case that Maxx Crosby is the most complete defensive end in the NFL. His 32 run stops leads the league, with only one other player in the league having more than 19 (Demarcus Lawrence). He’s also having a fantastic season as a pass-rusher, recording a career-high 10.5 sacks through 11 games. Only Brian Burns (718) has played more snaps than Crosby (692), as he doesn't come off the field for the Raiders.
Sweat has put together solid seasons in the NFL already, but his 2022 campaign has been his best by a mile. He is the sixth-highest-graded edge rusher (88.2) this season, developing into a complete player. Sweat ranks third in the NFL in run stops (18) and has the seventh-most pressures (48) among all edge defenders. He even leads the NFL in quarterback hits (17), tallying more through Week 12 than he had all of last season (eight). Even without Chase Young opposite him, Sweat has developed into one of the league’s most dominant pass-rushers.
Despite playing just 18 snaps during the entire 2021 season, Za’Darius Smith has managed to bounce back in a huge way at 30 years old. In fact, he’s having the best statistical season of his career with the Vikings. He leads the NFL in pressures (61) and he’s already recorded 9.5 sacks through 11 games. Smith is also a strong run-defender (68.5), solidifying himself as one of the best signings by any team this past offseason.
All Trey Hendrickson does is produce and fly under the radar. After Week 12, he has the third-highest pass-rush grade (90.0) among edge rushers this season. The only two players ahead of him are Garrett and Parsons, who just so happen to be Nos. 1 and 2 on this list. The overall sack numbers are down a bit for Hendrickson (six through Week 12), but he is still one of the league’s most consistent and disruptive players off the edge.
Judon leads the NFL in sacks (13), marking the second straight season that he’s reached double digits in New England. During his five years in Baltimore, Judon never recorded more than 9.5 sacks in a single season. But he already has 25.5 sacks in 28 games with the Patriots. Judon also ranks fifth in the NFL in pressures (50) through Week 12.
GM here is Matt Judon destroying teams this year pic.twitter.com/WTH5zaar2C
— Brett ???? (@TheBg_12) November 5, 2022
The only reason he's not higher on this list is due to a mediocre pass-rush win rate (16.8%), as he’s “lucked” into a few low-quality sacks. Still, Judon is having a fantastic season and should approach 20-plus sacks this season.
The addition of Von Miller was precisely what the Bills needed for their defensive line — a pass rusher who could beat the best offensive tackles one-on-one and make timely plays. Through 11 games, Miller is tied for the eighth-most pressures (45) and tied for the fourth-most hurries (33). A knee injury could cause him to miss the rest of the season, but he has been fantastic this year when on the field.
Burns has been an ironman for the Panthers this year, leading all edge defenders in snaps (718). Despite that heavy workload, he's been incredibly productive. Burns ranks fourth in the NFL in pressures (53) while also placing second in hurries (34). He’s already recorded double-digit sacks for the first time in his career (10) and is still only 24 years. His lack of ability to stop the run (49.5 PFF run-defense grade) is the only thing keeping him from being higher on this list.
Phillips has taken a massive step forward in Year 2 for the Dolphins. He boasts the 10th-best pass-rush grade this season (83.3) and the eighth-most pressures (45) among edge defenders. Phillips has really come on since Week 6, averaging 5.5 pressures per game. He’s a fun watch, as his motor always runs hot.
O motor de Jaelan Phillips é impressionante pic.twitter.com/W9ZdYoJfnA
— Phins Brasil ???????????? (@PhinsBr) November 30, 2022
His sack numbers haven’t been overly impressive, but he does have a 20.8% pass-rush win rate on the season. So, it's only a matter of time before he really starts to rack up sacks with the Dolphins.
One of the reasons the Eagles have been able to limit the number of snaps for players like Brandon Graham and Robert Quinn is the emergence of Josh Sweat. Through Week 12, he is PFF’s 10th-highest-graded edge rusher (84.0). His ability to stop the run has been really impressive, having racked up the fourth-most run stops (17) and sitting as the sixth-highest-graded edge defender in run defense (78.0) among those with at least 300 snaps.
Despite playing for the Dallas Cowboys, Demarcus Lawrence is one of the league’s most underrated players. He’s battled multiple injuries this season to his lower body and has still been able to produce at a high rate.
Lawrence ranks second in the NFL in run stops (21) and has recorded 37 pressures on just 265 pass-rush snaps. He's already tallied six sacks and two forced fumbles despite playing just 445 snaps this season. Lawrence is one of the NFL's most complete and reliable edge defenders.
Highsmith is having a breakout season for the Steelers, as he’s already recorded double-digit sacks. In the first two years of his career, he posted just eight sacks on nearly 1,300 snaps. But he's already at 10 sacks on just 634 snaps this season. Highsmith is a plus run-defender (73.4) and plays incredibly hard. The only reason he’s not higher here is due to a subpar pass-rush win rate (11%), as he’s been able to record a ton of sacks on limited pressures (37). Still, the Steelers must be thrilled with the production they’ve gotten from their third-year edge rusher from Charlotte.
After playing in just seven games from 2020-2021, Hunter is officially back and looks like one of the better pass-rushers in the league. His 2022 stat line includes seven sacks and 44 pressures — the latter being tied for 11th. Hunter has always been a good run-defender, and he’s totaled 16 run stops thus far (tied for seventh-most in the NFL among edge defenders). His overall win rate (18.7%) is slightly above his career average, and he seems to be getting better and better every week.
The overall sack numbers haven’t been there for Allen this season (3.5), but he’s having another disruptive campaign. He ranks 14th in pressures (43) but has the sixth-most quarterback hits (11). In fact, his hit total matches that of players such as Micah Parsons, Maxx Crosby and Matthew Judon. He also has 29 hurries, the 10th-most in the NFL. If Allen can start turning more pressures and hurries into sacks, he could jump into the top 10 of this list in no time.
Gary played just nine games this season before a knee injury ended his season. He recorded six sacks in that span and tallied at least three pressures in each outing. If not for the injury, you could argue that he should be in the top 10. Gary has firmly established himself as one of the league's best pass-rushers despite being out for the season.
Hughes is on a lousy football team, but don't let that take away from just how good he's been this season. He currently has a 20.1% win rate, ninth-best in the NFL. He’s already recorded eight sacks on the year, which is the most he’s had in a single season since 2014. Hughes has been the Texans' only defender to create consistent pressure, and he would have even more sacks if he could get some help opposite him.
First game back for Austin Jackson, and Jerry Hughes welcomed him with this rush. Hughes still has it. pic.twitter.com/R8qSyVVe1h
— Dante Collinelli (@DanteCollinelli) November 29, 2022
Hughes has struggled a bit against the run, though, which is really the only reason he’s not ranked higher. As a pure pass-rusher, he is having one of the best seasons of his career.
Graham is currently PFF's No. 5 edge rusher in overall grade (89.6), but he is a little bit lower on this list due to a lack of snaps (287). Graham has not missed a game this season, but the Eagles use him in a heavy rotation on the defensive line. He's played just 40% of the team's defensive snaps, but he's managed to record at least two pressures in each of the past six games. Graham also has a ridiculous 22.4% pass-rush win rate and sports the sixth-highest run-defense grade (79.5) among edge defenders. As we get closer to the playoffs, look for the Eagles to increase the snaps for their best pure pass-rusher.
The only reason Reddick isn’t higher on this list is due to a sub-par run-defense grade (63.5), as he’s been one of the better pure pass-rushers in the league. Among edge defenders with at least 250 pass-rush snaps, Reddick ranks 13th in pass-rush grade (78.5). With eight sacks and three forced fumbles this season, he contributes to an Eagles pass rush that ranks among the league's best. They are the only team on this list to have three edge defenders ranked.
One reason the Titans often field an elite defense every year is due to players like Denico Autry. After a season-ending injury to Harold Landry III (ACL), the Titans decided to use Autry more on the edge rather than the interior. While he’s certainly played there in the past, Autry has been used almost exclusively as a full-time edge defender this season.
That move has paid off, as Autry currently has seven sacks in 10 games while recording a 26.6% true pass-rush win rate this season (10th-best in the NFL). He’s also recorded 44 pressures in 10 games, which is more than other household names such as Khalil Mack, Bradley Chubb and Demarcus Lawrence. At age 32, Autry is having the best season of his career.
When the Chargers traded for Mack, the expectation was that he could be their “No. 2” pass-rusher opposite of Joey Bosa. But with Bosa missing nearly the entire season with a groin injury, Mack has had to be the top rusher for the Chargers. And while he certainly isn’t the same player he was with the Raiders or the Bears, he’s still been a really effective player. Mack has recorded seven sacks this season and tallied three or more pressures in eight of 11 games. He’s no longer an elite edge player, but Mack is still a very good player at age 31.
There is something to be said for consistency, and that's exactly why Hubbard deserves to be on the list. This would mark the fifth straight season he has posted an overall grade of 66.0 or better, and he's improved just about every year. Hubbard is having the best campaign of his NFL career, tying for seventh in run stops (16).
oh my god Sam Hubbard pic.twitter.com/QCmzIDd2RC
— Mike (@bengals_sans) November 28, 2022
While he doesn't have gaudy sack totals this season (4.5), he is currently fifth in quarterback hits (12). His improvement is most evident in his true pass-set win rate, which stands at 25% through 11 games.
One of the most surprising players to make this list, Franklin-Myers is putting together an impressive season. While he’s recorded only four sacks on the season, Franklin-Myers currently has a 31% true pass-set win rate. That is the fourth-best mark among all qualifying edge defenders, behind only Myles Garrett, Melvin Ingram III and Za’Darius Smith.
John Franklin-Myers has flown under the radar despite great results. 50+ pressures & 16.5+% pass-rush win rate in 2021-22. 16 pressures and a 21.3% PRWR this year.
Dating back to 2022, JFM ranks in the 83rd percentile in pass-rush grade and 86th percentile in pass-rush win rate. pic.twitter.com/MXykr4uHcv
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 20, 2022
Franklin-Myers doesn’t have an absurd pressure total, as the Jets use a heavy rotation on the defensive line, but he is currently the 11th-highest-graded edge defender due to his win rate and outstanding run-defense grade (75.6).
The “other” pass-rusher for the Patriots is Deatrich Wise Jr., who is having the best year of his career in 2022. He’s one of New England's more versatile defenders, as he plays all over the line of scrimmage. Wise has already set a career high in sacks (6.5), and he currently ranks ninth in the NFL in hurries (30). Wise has 40 pressures on the season, which is the most he’s posted in a single season since 2017. He also boasts the 11th-best pass-rush grade (79.1) among edge defenders with at least 250 pass-rush snaps. Needless to say, he’s had a fantastic 2022 campaign thus far.