Ranking the top 20 edge rushers for 2024 NFL season

Ranking the top 20 edge rushers for 2024 NFL season

Football is a team sport, but a few positions stand out above the rest: Quarterbacks touch the ball on virtually every snap, wide receivers open up the passing game and premier offensive linemen pave the way for big plays. On the other side of the ball, perhaps no spot warrants more attention than edge rusher, where the game’s best defensive ends and outside linebackers disrupt opposing pockets.

With that in mind, here’s how we’d rank 20 of the best pass rushers for the 2024 season:

Rank: 20 | Team: San Francisco 49ers | Age: 31 | Year: 9th

The former first-round draft pick has embraced a mercenary role, now on his third team in three years. After playoff runs with the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills, he’s still severely underrated as a sack artist, ranking 10th in quarterback takedowns (39.5) over the last four seasons.

Rank: 19 | Team: Pittsburgh Steelers | Age: 26 | Year: 5th

Does he benefit from playing alongside T.J. Watt? Sure. He’s also been effective as a rugged pocket-pusher even when Watt hasn’t been on the field, and he’s not necessarily one-dimensional, either, totaling eight forced fumbles and 35 tackles for loss over the last three seasons.

Rank: 18 | Team: Cleveland Browns | Age: 31 | Year: 10th

Since missing almost his entire final season with the Green Bay Packers, the former All-Pro has rebounded with solid outings for both the Browns and Minnesota Vikings. Yes, he’s aging, but on a talented Cleveland front, he’s still a top-tier attacker after logging 20 quarterback hits in 2023.

Rank: 17 | Team: New Orleans Saints | Age: 34 | Year: 14th

Jordan is an all-time Saint, bordering on Hall of Fame consideration for anchoring a consistently stingy defense. He was a virtual nonfactor as a pass rusher in 2023, but he was also battling multiple injuries. At the very least, the eight-time Pro Bowler should remain one of the game’s savviest run-stuffers.

Rank: 16 | Team: Green Bay Packers | Age: 26 | Year: 6th

The former 12th overall pick has been streaky and injury-riddled through five seasons, still seeking his first double-digit sack campaign. When he’s active, however, he’s tenacious, combining for 50 quarterback hits in his last two 16-game seasons. Still young and explosive, he might only be entering his prime.

Rank: 15 | Team: New England Patriots | Age: 31 | Year: 9th

Going on 32 and coming off an injury that cost him most of 2023, Judon certainly carries risk. He was steadily disruptive for the Patriots’ scrappy defense in the two years prior, however, peaking with 15.5 sacks at age 30. He’s also had at least 10 tackles for loss in five of his eight NFL seasons. 

Rank: 14 | Team: New York Giants | Age: 23 | Year: 3rd

Drafted fifth overall in 2022, the big-bodied Oregon product went from promising to imposing in Year 2, quietly hitting 11.5 sacks to go with 12 tackles for loss. Now accompanied by Brian Burns, he could be in for an even bigger leap as part of an underrated Big Blue front seven.

Rank: 13 | Team: Houston Texans | Age: 22 | Year: 2nd

Expectations were high for the Alabama standout after Houston drafted him No. 3 overall in 2023, but Anderson delivered. While he didn’t post a gaudy sack total (7), he was always noticeable in the trenches, setting the tone for DeMeco Ryans’ front with 10 tackles for loss and 22 quarterback hits.

Rank: 12 | Team: New York Giants | Age: 26 | Year: 6th

Handsomely paid after arriving via trade, Burns’ contract may well be loftier than his career production, as he’s only eclipsed double-digit sacks once in five years. Still, the ex-Carolina Panthers standout has been Mr. Reliable, with 15-plus quarterback hits and eight-plus sacks in each of his last four seasons.

Rank: 11 | Team: Detroit Lions | Age: 23 | Year: 3rd

Considered a safe bet when Detroit drafted him No. 2 overall in 2022, Hutchinson is well on his way to justifying the investment. After a solid debut, he took a big leap in 2023, more than doubling his quarterback-hit total (15 to 33) as a relentless aggressor during the Lions’ run to the NFC title game.

Rank: 10 | Team: Los Angeles Chargers | Age: 33 | Year: 11th

The former Defensive Player of the Year is more volatile at this stage of his career, logging six (or 35%) of his career-high 17 sacks in 2023 in a single game. He’s not quite the wrecking ball he once was with the Chicago Bears. Even so, the track record is so immense that he remains a force to be accounted for.

Rank: 9 | Team: Chicago Bears | Age: 27 | Year: 6th

The former first-rounder shared the limelight while starting for a vaunted Washington Commanders front from 2019-2023, but his impact as a one-man show was abundantly clear after the Bears acquired him via trade; he finished 2023, split between the two clubs, with a career-high 12.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. More than a technically refined pass rusher, Sweat has also proven formidable against the run.

Rank: 8 | Team: New York Jets | Age: 29 | Year: 8th

The Pro Bowler’s 2023 streakiness may have contributed to the Philadelphia Eagles shipping Reddick to New York, but few rushers have been more dynamic — especially in crunch time — in recent years. His 50.5 sacks since 2020 rank fourth among all players, and his five forced fumbles in 2022 were key to the Eagles’ Super Bowl bid. Beyond his explosive traits, Reddick’s also been very durable.

Rank: 7 | Team: Cincinnati BengalsAge: 29 | Year: 8th

When the former backup broke out in his final season with the New Orleans Saints, some wondered if he’d go down as a one-year wonder. Cincy was right to commit big bucks to him as a free agent, however; only four others have more sacks (39.5) over the last three seasons, and he casually hit a career-high 17.5 in 2023. Run “D” isn’t nearly as prolific for him, but as a finisher in the pocket, few are more reliable.

Rank: 6 | Team: Houston Texans | Age: 29 | Year: 10th

Injuries appeared to threaten his career back in 2021, his lone season without double-digit sacks of the last half decade. The ex-Minnesota Vikings fan favorite has since reverted to All-Pro form, pairing an unmatched physique with pocket-crushing results, including an NFL-high 23 tackles for loss in 2023. Now under DeMeco Ryans’ direction in Houston, Hunter should remain a quarterback’s worst nightmare. 

Rank: 5 | Team: Las Vegas RaidersAge: 26 | Year: 6th

If it feels like Crosby has been around for at least a few years longer, it’s because his unhinged persistence up front has long made him a face of the Raiders. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year candidate in just five years, his maniacal push has resulted in 30-plus quarterback hits in three straight seasons, and his durability (zero missed games since his arrival) has been a cherry on top.

Rank: 4 | Team: Dallas CowboysAge: 25 | Year: 4th

When you think Cowboys, you think Parsons, whose colorful personality has only drawn more attention to a historic three-year start in Dallas. Whether standing up, patrolling the middle or putting his hand in the turf, the three-time All-Pro has been a matchup terror for every opponent, averaging 13.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and almost 30 quarterback hits per year (!) since his award-winning 2021 debut.

Rank: 3 | Team: San Francisco 49ers | Age: 26 | Year: 6th

The former Defensive Rookie and Player of the Year endured a “down” year in 2023 even as San Francisco advanced to the Super Bowl, and yet he still managed 10.5 sacks — his third straight double-digit campaign — and 35 quarterback hits, the second-best mark of his career. It speaks to the bar he’s set as a total-package difference-maker for one of the game’s most reputable defensive fronts.

Rank: 2 | Team: Cleveland Browns | Age: 28 | Year: 8th

There isn’t a more consistent yet punishing defensive end in the game, plain and simple. The former No. 1 overall pick is eyeing a seventh straight double-digit sack season in 2024, fresh off a Defensive Player of the Year campaign in which he logged 17 tackles for loss and 30 quarterback hits for arguably the NFL’s toughest defense. He’s forced multiple fumbles in all but two of his seven seasons. And he might just be settling in, posting the best pass-rush win rate of his position in 2023, per PFF.

Rank: 1 | Team: Pittsburgh Steelers | Age: 29 | Year: 8th

Myles Garrett has technically been steadier over the last half decade, if only because an injury limited Watt to 10 games in 2022. In every other way, though, No. 90 on the Steelers has been the standard-setter for edge rushing, and it’s not even particularly close. Clearing 13 sacks in each of his last five healthy seasons, with close to 30 forced fumbles and 200 quarterback hits in his vaunted career, the six-time Pro Bowler is the heart of Pittsburgh’s old-school program, pairing elite get-off with jarring physicality. If he’s on the field, Watt is easily the most feared player at his position.

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