Ranking the 25 best edge defenders from the 2022 NFL regular season

Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Los Angeles Chargers tight end Tre' McKitty (88) blocks Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

• Tight at the top: The top three players are separated by the thinnest of margins, with Myles Garrett leading the group for 2022. 

• Pushing it to the Maxx: Maxx Crosby played more than any other player at his position and finished with a top-five rank as a dominant edge defender for all 1,000-plus of his snaps.

• A second-year breakout: Miami’s Jaelan Phillips emerged in Year 2, posting elite pass-rush metrics and ranking among the top run defenders at his position.

Estimated Reading Time: 11 mins

This list is based almost entirely on PFF’s final defensive grades for every edge defender during the 2022 regular season. The grades take into account every defensive snap played in every game. This list also allows for some wiggle room in the final rankings based on the number of snaps or games played but leans heavily into the final grades from the end of the regular season.

Keep in mind that sacks typically represent only a small percentage of snaps for an edge defender in a season compared to the quality of every single play, which the grades take into account, so not every NFL sack leader will be represented adjacent to their sack totals.

1. Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns (92.5)

Sixteen sacks in 16 games combined with a league-leading 25.6% pass-rush win rate (min. 50% of pass-rush snaps) earned Garrett the best pass-rush grade in the league (93.5). This marks the second year in a row for Garrett as the league leader in pass-rush grade and is the primary reason he landed the top defensive grade in the league. Garrett also finished second in wins above replacement (0.58) for the position, behind only Maxx Crosby and his 1,000-plus defensive snaps.

2. Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys (91.6)

Parsons’ 90 total pressures were tied for the most in the league, and his 19.27% pressure rate was the highest at the position among those who played at least 50% of their team’s pass-rush snaps. Parsons’ dominance as a pass rusher during his rookie year was impossible to ignore, and he made the shift to a full-time edge role in Year 2, managing the second-highest pass-rush grade (92.1) and third-best win rate (22.9%) among qualifying edge defenders. 

3. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers (90.9)

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year tied with Micah Parsons for the league lead in total pressures (90), thanks to the second-highest win rate (24.8%) and the third-highest pass-rush grade (90.9) among qualifying edge defenders. Bosa not only led the NFL in sacks (18.5), but he also managed a top-five run-defense grade (81.1) among qualifying edge defenders, having not missed a single tackle against the run.

4. Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders (90.1)

Crosby was the only defensive lineman in the NFL who played more than 1,000 defensive snaps in 2022, and he did so at an incredibly high level, earning a 90.0-plus overall grade for the second consecutive season. Crosby dominated as a pass rusher, with 12.5 sacks (tied for eighth) and 81 pressures (third), and did the same against the run, with an 82.5 run-defense grade that ranked third among qualifying edge defenders. As a result, Crosby generated more wins above replacement (0.62) than any other player at his position.

5. Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins (87.7)

Phillips broke out in his sophomore year with impressive grades, including an elite 89.8 pass-rush mark (sixth). The 2021 first-round pick played all 17 games and finished in the top 10 at his position in total pressures (70), run-defense grade (75.1) and PFF WAR (0.42). While Phillips actually recorded fewer sacks (seven) than in his rookie year (8.5), when considering his elite excellent underlying metrics, the best may be yet to come for the former Miami Hurricane.

6. Josh Sweat, Philadelphia Eagles (86.6)

While he didn’t get the same attention as teammate Haason Reddick and his 16 sacks among Eagles’ pass rushers, Sweat posted top-10 marks in both run-defense (80.5) and pass-rush grades (82.1) among qualifying edge defenders. He also generated a top-five run-stop rate (9.8%) with an average depth of tackle of 1.3 yards, which ranked tied for second among edge defenders with at least 50% of snaps played.

7. Montez Sweat, Washington Commanders (86.4)

Continuing the conversation about edge defenders named Sweat who lead their position in average depth of tackle against the run, Montez Sweat posted the best mark at the position in 2022 (0.8 yards). Not only did Sweat finish with an 80.5 run-defense grade, which was seventh at the position, but he added another top-10 mark among qualifying edge defenders with a career-high 79.6 pass-rush grade. 

8. Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings (86.3)

Hunter has now posted at least an 80.8 overall grade in each season he's played since 2019 after having not hit that mark in any of his four seasons prior. Concerns about Hunter’s durability heading into the year after he missed a season and a half were put to rest as he racked up a career-high 905 defensive snaps in 2022. Hunter’s 70 total pressures were tied for sixth most at the position, and he led all defensive linemen in pressures that resulted in a sack for his teammates (10).

9. Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals (85.0)

Hendrickson has emerged as one of the better pass-rush specialists in the league over the past few seasons, improving his pass-rush grade every year since 2019. His most recent improvement landed him among the top five players at his position in terms of pass-rush grade, and while that didn’t translate into the sack production of others in that range, he still made a significant impact with 18 quarterback hits (fourth most among edge defenders) and a 17.03% pressure rate (eighth).

10. Haason Reddick, Philadelphia Eagles (81.1)

Reddick actually finished the year ranked 21st among edge defenders in overall grade but moves up significantly for the purpose of this list, considering his snap volume (816), his career year as a pass rusher and his league-leading six forced fumbles. Reddick earned a top-five pass-rush grade (90.0), posting 16 sacks and 68 total pressures — all career highs.

Where his ranking takes a hit is in run defense, where his 59.9 grade placed 35th at the position (min. 50% of run defense snaps). And his 32.3% missed tackle rate against the run ranked second worst among edge defenders. That being said, his impact solely as a pass rusher should be considered and is a big reason why he ranks 10th in PFF WAR at the position.

11. Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles (89.8)

The 34-year-old hit double-digit sacks for the first time in his 13-year career and posted his best defensive grade since 2017. What moves Graham down this list is snap volume, as he shifted into more of a part-time role for the NFC champions and played less than 500 defensive snaps in a non-injury year for the first time since 2013. However, it shouldn’t be understated just how well Graham still performed, posting a top-eight pressure rate (17.14%), win rate (22.86%) and pass-rush grade (89.1) among qualifying edge defenders, keeping him in the top 12 here.

12. Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars (82.9)

Allen has consistently improved since being a top-10 pick back in 2019, most recently posting 82.0-plus grades in run defense and overall while adding a 79.4 pass-rush grade (17th). His impressive run-defense mark ranked second at the position among those who played at least 50% of their team’s run-defense snaps. Allen did all this while playing nearly 900 defensive snaps for the Jaguars — also a career high. That led to him being one of the most valuable players at his position, ranking sixth in PFF WAR (0.40).

13. Von Miller, Buffalo Bills (85.8)

Miller had a chance to finish higher on this list if not for injury, but his season was cut short after just 11 games. Prior to the injury, Miller was having his best pass-rush year since his last All-Pro season in 2018. His 45 total pressures were tied for the eighth-most among edge defenders, while his 78.8 run-defense grade also ranked eighth through the first 12 weeks before his campaign ended. 

14. Gregory Rousseau, Buffalo Bills (83.6)

Rousseau made great strides in Year 2, specifically as a pass rusher, improving his pass-rush grade to 82.7, which ranked among the top 12 edge defenders and helped him double his sack total from his rookie season. While Rousseau missed four games with injury, he was still able to post top-20 marks for the position in pressure rate (15.16%) and win rate (19.49%) — also significant improvements from his rookie year.

15. Josh Uche, New England Patriots (83.1)

Many would likely expect a different Patriot edge defender in this spot, but when it comes to the overall defensive grades, Uche outperformed Matthew Judon specifically as a pass rusher, albeit on a smaller sample size. Judon’s 15.5 sacks shouldn’t be overlooked, but when it comes to every pass-rush snap played, Uche was more consistent, ranking fourth in win rate (23.68%), second in pressure rate (20.68%) and eighth in pass-rush grade (87.8). He added 11.5 sacks of his own on nearly 200 fewer pass-rush snaps than Judon.

16. John Franklin-Myers, New York Jets (82.6)

Franklin-Myers is easily one of the more underrated defensive linemen in the league, having posted solid grades across the board in each of the past two seasons. While he doesn’t have flashy pass-rush numbers, never exceeding six sacks in a season, he has posted a minimum of 50 pressures and a 74.1 pass-rush grade in each of the past three years as a starter. He cracked the top 10 (min. 50% of snaps) as a run defender for his position this season, as well, earning a career-high 76.8 run-defense grade.

17. Za’Darius Smith, Minnesota Vikings (82.2)

One of the better Comeback Player of the Year candidates who didn’t quite get that particular attention during the year, Smith went from playing just 18 defensive snaps in an injury-derailed 2021 regular season to a resurgent year at age 30 with a new team in 2022. Smith got back to his double-digit sack ways with 10 and finished fourth among all edge defenders with 78 total pressures.

18. T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers (82.1)

Watt missed seven games in 2022 and didn’t quite get back into the groove that made him 2021’s Defensive Player of the Year, finishing the season with his lowest pass-rush grade (71.5) since his rookie year. Even without the strong underlying pass-rush metrics that he typically boasts, Watt still found a way to be productive, posting 5.5 sacks and 31 pressures on an 83% defensive snap share through 10 games.

19. Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers (82.9)

After a breakout year in 2021, Gary was looking like he could push to surpass his Year 3 totals before tearing his ACL in Week 9. Prior to the injury, he ranked among the top 10 edge defenders in pass-rush grade (83.0) and total pressures (38). His six sacks and 20.9% win rate also placed him among the top 15 players at his position. With a full recovery, Gary has a great shot to be higher on this list following the 2023 season.

20. Denico Autry, Tennessee Titans (82.8)

With Harold Landry out for the year, the Titans leaned heavily on Autry to power their defensive line, and he delivered with a career year across the board, including a 74.3 run-defense grade and a 75.0 pass-rush grade. Autry dealt with injuries of his own, missing five games, but still managed to play 66% of the team’s defensive snaps when he was active while ranking among the top 20 edge defenders in pressure rate (14.88%) and run-stop rate (8.9%). 

21. Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions (80.7)

The second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft immediately became a significant contributor to the Lions’ defense, playing the second-most defensive snaps at the position (953) and thriving, posting a top-25 grade among edge defenders. Hutchinson totaled 9.5 sacks, 53 pressures (tied for 24th) and 22 run stops (sixth) on the year. His presence on this list after his rookie season should provide plenty of optimism that he can continue to surge as he develops in the NFL.

22. Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys (78.1)

While not quite at the elite level that he’s been playing at in previous seasons, Lawrence continues to be a consistent threat off the edge as both a pass rusher and a run defender. Entering his 30s, a drop-off in pass-rush production wouldn’t be much of a surprise, but he still earned a 74.6 pass-rush grade (26th), which led to 55 total pressures (tied for 19th).

Lawrence remained dominant as a run defender, leading the position in run-stop rate (12.5%). He has landed among the top 10 in that metric in four of the past five seasons.

23. Alex Highsmith, Pittsburgh Steelers (78.0)

With T.J. Watt missing several games due to injury, Highsmith stepped up in a big way, playing a career-high 941 defensive snaps (fourth among edge defenders) and setting new highs in sacks (14.5) and pressures (55). Highsmith’s high sack total was good for sixth in the league, a significant reason that he cracks this list. His contributions outside of the sacks can be described as nothing less than solid, as he posted 70.0-plus grades in four of five defensive categories during his big Year 3.

24. Arden Key, Jacksonville Jaguars (81.3)

Key ended up being Jacksonville’s second-most productive pass rusher, according to PFF’s pass-rush productivity model, which combines sacks, hits and hurries relative to how many times a player rushes the passer. His success comes even as the team spent the first overall pick on Travon Walker, who played significantly more snaps, and the Jaguars also leaned on Dawuane Smoot slightly more while he was in the lineup. Key still produced top-25 marks for the position in pressure rate (14.38%) and win rate (18.30%), landing 4.5 sacks as a pass-rush specialist. 

25. Carl Granderson, New Orleans Saints (80.4)

Granderson posted a career-high 5.5 sacks in 2022, but it wasn’t his pass-rush ability that landed him on this list. The former undrafted free agent out of Wyoming earned the highest run-defense grade at the position (min. 50% of run-defense snaps) with an 84.4 mark thanks to 24 run stops (fourth) and an 11.6% run-stop rate (second). 


Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit