As much as people like to complain about preseason football, especially with playing time for starters decreasing further, it’s a good time of year to spot players who are emerging from further down the roster. Places on the team and depth chart are decided in August for a lot of players, ranging from undrafted free agents just trying to get their shot, to first-round draft picks aiming to shake the potential bust label. One area where we’ve seen a lot of standout performances through three games, four if you’re the Denver Broncos or Atlanta Falcons, is pass-rushing. So here are our top-15 highest-graded pass-rushers in the NFL so far this preseason.*
*minimum 40 pass-rushing snaps
Daeshon Hall, EDGE, Philadelphia Eagles, 94.5 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
Hall has been a monster up front for the Philadelphia Eagles so far this month, racking up three sacks, six hits and two hurries on just 46 pass-rushing snaps. He has also forced two fumbles so far and has a pass-rushing productivity rating of 17.9, highest among edge defenders with at least 40 pass-rushing snaps.
Chase Winovich, EDGE, New England Patriots, 91.6 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
After falling all the way to the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, former Michigan star Chase Winovich is showing why we thought he was a great pick by the Patriots. With three sacks, a hit and eight hurries, he has produced a 15.3 pass-rushing productivity rating that is second among all edge defenders with at least 40 pass-rushing snaps this preseason.
Taco Charlton, EDGE, Dallas Cowboys, 91.4 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
After two disappointing seasons since being selected by the Cowboys in the first round out of Michigan in the 2017 NFL Draft, Taco Charlton has made an impact as a pass-rusher this month as he looks to prove his worth on the roster. He has registered two sacks and three hits on 49 pass-rushing attempts, to go along with two forced fumbles.
Justin Zimmer, DI, Atlanta Falcons, 87.7 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
An undrafted free agent out of Ferris State back in 2016, Justin Zimmer is enjoying his second straight impressive preseason as a pass-rusher with the Atlanta Falcons. From 50 pass-rushing snaps, he has racked up a sack, two hits and a hurry, making life difficult for interior offensive linemen.
Darryl Johnson, EDGE, Buffalo Bills, 86.5 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
A seventh-round draft pick out of North Carolina A&T in the 2019 NFL Draft, Johnson has made plays in his bid to make the Bills roster. So far this preseason, he has racked up two sacks, two hits and a hurry. His best performance so far was against the Carolina Panthers, where one of those sacks was accompanied by a forced fumble.
Henry Mondeaux, DI, Pittsburgh Steelers, 86.4 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
Mondeaux is a really interesting case because while the former undrafted free agent has officially registered just one hurry so far this preseason, his impact has been felt beyond that. He had a hit where he quickly beat Josh LeRibeus of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a spin move and has beaten his blocker as a pass-rusher another nine times without registering a pressure.
Cassanova McKinzy, EDGE, Washington Redskins, 86.3 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
An undrafted free agent out of Auburn back in 2016, Cassanova McKinzy is having somewhat of a breakout preseason in 2019. From 54 pass-rushing snaps, he has racked up two sacks, three hits and four hurries, with the added bonus of a forced fumble and batted pass. He saw 24 snaps as a pass-rusher in the regular season for the Redskins a year ago but was unable to generate any pressure. As a result, this preseason has been important for his bid to make the roster again.
Dewayne Hendrix, EDGE, Miami Dolphins, 86.2 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
An undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh, Hendrix started the preseason with a bang in generating two sacks, a hit, a hurry, including a forced fumble on one of the sacks, on just 21 pass-rushing attempts. Since then, he has managed a modest four hurries on 37 pass-rushing attempts, but that debut is the performance that he’ll want people to remember.
Tuzar Skipper, EDGE, Pittsburgh Steelers, 86.1 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
Another undrafted free agent, Skipper is making it hard for the Steelers to let him go and has produced something of note in each of his three performances so far. In the Steelers' opening game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he registered a sack and three hits, following that up with a sack and three hurries against the Kansas City Chiefs. He managed just one pressure on 13 pass-rushing attempts against the Tennessee Titans, but that came in the form of a sack and forced fumble.
DeMarcus Walker, DI, Denver Broncos, 84.0 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
A second-round draft pick out of Florida State back in 2017, DeMarcus Walker is having the best preseason of his career so far. From 70 pass-rushing opportunities, he has racked up a sack, two hits and eight hurries, resulting in a pass-rushing productivity rating of 9.4 that ranks second among all players on the defensive interior with at least 40 pass-rushing snaps this preseason.
Damontre Moore, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers, 84.0 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
Death, taxes, and Damontre Moore showing out in preseason. Going back to 2013, Moore has yet to finish a preseason with a PFF pass-rushing grade below 74.0. So far this preseason, his 14.5 pass-rushing productivity rating ranks third among edge defenders, registering three sacks, five hits and five hurries.
Charles Harris, EDGE, Miami Dolphins, 83.9 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
A 2017 first-round draft pick out of Missouri, Harris has struggled to make an impact as a pass-rusher in the regular season so far for the Dolphins. That’s not the case this preseason, though, with the former Tiger racking up two sacks, three hits and six hurries on 58 pass-rushing snaps.
Albert Huggins, DI, Houston Texans, 82.5 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
An undrafted free agent from the national champion Clemson Tigers, Huggins has registered six total pressures on 53 pass-rushing snaps so far this preseason. His best performance came in the second preseason game against the Detroit Lions, where he racked up two hits and two hurries from just 22 pass-rushing snaps.
Dre’mont Jones, DI, Denver Broncos, 82.4 PFF Pass-Rush Grade
Jones fell to the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but in his preseason debut, the former Ohio State standout showed why he is an interesting developmental project for the Broncos. Rushing the passer 26 times against the Atlanta Falcons, he racked up three hits and two hurries. Since then, he has just one hit from 32 pass-rushing snaps, but that debut highlighted his potential if he can develop some consistency.
Ricky Walker, DI, Dallas Cowboys, 81.9 PFF Pass Rush Grade
We close out our top-15 pass-rushers of the preseason with another undrafted free agent, this time out of Virginia Tech. Walker has been on the field for 41 pass-rushing snaps this preseason and has registered a hit and four hurries. He’ll be looking for one more big performance to prove he deserves a spot on the final roster.