NFL’s top 10 edge defenders in pressures on true pass sets: Cowboys' Micah Parsons and Jaguars' Josh Allen rank in the top five

2MA081H Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) raises his hands to the stands during an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

• Micah Parsons' dominance can't be overstated: His 72 pressures on true pass sets paced all NFL edge defenders in 2022, and his pass-rush grade ranked second.

• Bosa and Reddick round out the top three: Haason Reddick shined in his first season in Philadelphia, whereas Bosa was his usual, dominant self.

• New Chiefs edge defender Charles Omenihu takes No. 8 spot: Perhaps a surprise to some, Omenihu racked up 47 quarterback pressures against true pass sets in 2022.

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Sack totals are often considered king for NFL pass rushers, but we at PFF believe that pressures are a more accurate determinant of how a player is performing.

PFF Premium Stats allows you to dive into pressures — including sacks, hits and hurries — and you can look solely at true pass sets, eliminating plays that help out the offense, such as play action, screens and RPOs. Here were the top 10 edge defenders in total pressures when facing true pass sets in 2022.

1. Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

Pressures on true pass sets: 72

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Parsons is a unicorn when it comes to rushing the passer. He strikes fear into offenses around the league, and on a true pass set it is almost impossible to contain him. Not only did he lead all qualified edge defenders in total pressures on true pass sets, but he also led with a whopping 50 hurries on the quarterback — 12 more than the next closest defender. Dallas moved him to a full-time edge role, and it has paid dividends.

Parsons finished with a 92.2 pass-rush grade on true pass sets, which trailed only Myles Garrett. His 25.6% win rate was also top five among qualified edge defenders. From Week 11 through Week 18, Parsons stopped playing off-ball linebacker, tallying only 20 snaps away from the defensive line. Over that span, he led all edge defenders with a 91.1 pass-rush grade.

2. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

Pressures on true pass sets: 64

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is coming off the highest-graded season of his young career (90.6 PFF grade). Bosa was on a tear all last season, especially against true pass sets. He led all qualified edge defenders with 18 hits on the quarterback. His 14 sacks on true pass sets ranked second, and he also ranked top 10 in pass-rush productivity (14.2) and win percentage (23.3%).

Bosa's 90.6 pass-rush grade in 2022 ranked fourth among qualified edge defenders. He racked up an impressive 98 total pressures, just two off from joining Parsons as the only defender with triple-digit pressures. Bosa will be in the mix once again to try and retain his Defensive Player of the Year trophy.

3. Haason Reddick, Philadelphia Eagles

Pressures on true pass sets: 59

After stops in Arizona and Carolina, Reddick finally had his breakout season last year in Philadelphia. He posted career highs in PFF grade (84.6) and pass-rush grade (90.7). That can partly be attributed to his playing more as a true pass rusher, registering a career-high 512 pass-rush opportunities and a career-low 66 coverage snaps. Reddick finished with a 24.8% win rate on true pass sets, which was tied for sixth among qualified edge defenders.

This is where he made his money, as he ranked first with 17 of his 21 sacks coming against true pass sets. His 91.2 pass-rush grade on true pass sets ranked fourth, one of just six edges to surpass a 90.0 mark. Reddick also totaled 35 quarterback hurries, which tied for third. It's safe to say he made the most of his return to his hometown area.

4. Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars

Pressures on true pass sets: 55

Allen is one of the most underrated edge defenders in the league and has quickly become the star of the Jaguars' defense. His fumble recovery for a touchdown in Week 18 against Tennessee for the AFC South helped Jacksonville reach wild-card weekend, where the team pulled off a historic come-from-behind playoff victory against the Chargers. Allen, like Haason Reddick, was also tied for third with 35 hurries on the quarterback against true pass sets. Allen ranked second behind Nick Bosa with 14 quarterback hits on true pass sets, as well.

Allen is coming off his best season as a pro, as his career-high 84.7 PFF grade ranked 10th among edge defenders. Despite posting only seven sacks, Allen notched career highs in total pressures (77), quarterback hurries (49) and quarterback hits (21). He even posted a career-high 83.0 run-defense grade that ranked third among all edges. Allen was one of just three edge defenders to play more than 1,000 snaps, and he was also one of five edge defenders to drop into coverage 100 or more times. The former seventh-overall selection has improved his grades every season in the NFL, and now he is up for a substantial payday.

5. Za’Darius Smith, Cleveland Browns

Pressures on true pass sets: 55

Smith is on his fourth NFL team and will get to pair up with one of the best in the league in Myles Garrett. After somewhat of a slow start to his career in Baltimore, Smith hit his stride at his stops in the NFC North for the Packers and the Vikings. Last season in Minnesota, Smith posted an 87.0 pass-rush grade against true pass sets. His 38 hurries against true pass sets ranked second, behind Micah Parsons.

Smith can rush from the edge or the inside; the eight-year veteran knows how to generate pressure from all alignments. He put up a 23.8% pass-rush win rate when facing true pass sets in 2022, which was a top-10 mark among qualified edge defenders. If you remove his 2021 season in Green Bay in which he played just 37 snaps due to injury, Smith has posted three straight seasons of an 80.0-plus pass-rush grade. The Browns could have one of the best, if not the best, edge duos in the NFL in 2023.

6. Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins

Pressures on true pass sets: 51

Phillips broke out in 2022, posting career-high numbers across the board. His 90.5 pass-rush grade made him one of just six edge defenders to eclipse a 90.0 mark. He also joined 11 edge defenders with double-digit quarterback hits (11) on true pass sets. His PFF grade skyrocketed to 88.8 from 53.7 as a rookie.

Phillips' 32 quarterback pressures on true pass sets, a top-10 mark among qualified edge defenders, tied with Nick Bosa. In Phillips, Bradley Chubb and interior defender Christian Wilkins, the Dolphins have one of the deeper defensive lines in the league. Match that with a secondary led by stars Jalen Ramsey, Xavien Howard and Jevon Holland, and this should be one of the best defenses in the NFL, led by veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

7. Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings

Pressures on true pass sets: 51

Hunter has been an incredible edge defender in his seven seasons for Minnesota. His lowest PFF grade was 70.3 as a rookie, and he is coming off three straight seasons with an 80.0-plus PFF grade. His 33 quarterback hurries versus true pass sets in 2022 tied for sixth. And 10 of his 13 sacks came against true pass sets.

Hunter will be joined by Marcus Davenport, a relatively under-the-radar signing for Minnesota, to form one of the better edge duos in the league in 2023. On an otherwise young defense, they will need to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks to take heat off the secondary. If his seven-year career is any indication, Hunter will do just fine.

8. Charles Omenihu, Kansas City Chiefs

Pressures on true pass sets: 49

Omenihu had a strong year in San Francisco, which led him to sign with the reigning Super Bowl champs this offseason. On true pass sets, Omenihu totaled 35 quarterback hurries — tied for third with Haason Reddick and Josh Allen. He posted a career-high 62 total pressures in 2022, including seven sacks.

After being traded mid-season in 2021 from Houston to San Francisco, Omenihu continued to have a solid impact. He displayed an 82.3 pass-rush grade in 2021 and put up a 75.6 pass-rush grade last season. To this point, Omenihu has been more of a rotational pass rusher. In Kansas City, he will have a relatively clear path to start on the edge.

9. Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

Pressures on true pass sets: 46

Crosby has established himself as one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL. He was one of four edges to post a 90.0-plus PFF grade last season, joining the elite likes of Myles Garrett, Micah Parsons and Nick Bosa. It was a small step back from his 2021 season, in which he posted a 91.7 PFF grade and led the league with a career-high 108 pressures.

Regardless of that, back-to-back 90.0-plus-graded seasons speak for themselves. On true pass sets last season, Crosby ranked third with 13 quarterback hits. He was also one of 12 edge defenders to put up 10 or more sacks on true pass sets. Crosby continues to be the star of the show for the Raiders' young defense.

10. Matthew Judon, New England Patriots

Pressures on true pass sets: 46

Judon has come into his own since joining the Patriots. He finished 2022 with a career-high 73.6 PFF grade, also recording a career-high 69 total pressures to top his previous record of 64 pressures in his first season in New England. Although his grades have yet to reach an elite level, it seems that head coach Bill Belichick is getting the most production out of him.

In the first five seasons of his career in Baltimore, Judon totaled 38 sacks. Over the past two seasons in New England, he boasts 31 sacks. Of his 17 last season, 12 came against true pass sets — tied for third among qualified edges. Judon has earned 70.0-plus pass rush grades in four of his past five seasons, showcasing his consistency.


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