We’re one day away from the start of the 2022 NFL Draft and our positional previews move to the defensive side of the ball. So it’s only natural that we begin with the most coveted position heading into the selection process at the defensive end.
Teams looking to inject life into their pass rush will look toward this position first due to the deep pool of talent that could very well dominate the top 10 picks.
In fact, on Pro Football Focus’ big board of the top 250 college football prospects, four of the top 12 ranked prospects are edge rushers while there are 11 within the top 50.
Here are the top six edge rushers ranked by PFF along with their overall ranks and their 2021 stats.
2022 NFL Draft Running Back Rankings
1) Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan (ranked 1st overall)
- 14 games, 14.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles
2) Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon (7th overall)
- 10 games, 7.0 sacks, 12.0 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles
3) George Karlaftis, Purdue (10th overall)
- 12 games, 4.5 sacks, 10.0 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles
4) Travon Walker, Georgia (12th overall)
- 13 games, 6.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2 passes defended
5) Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State (32nd overall)
- 12 games, 11.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles
6) Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State (33rd overall
- 12 games, 9.5 sacks, 18.0 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles
2022 NFL Draft: No. 1 pick odds
As it stands on Wednesday morning, three of the top five favorites for the No. 1 pick at the draft are edge rushers.
Odds courtesy of Caesars, who are offering new users a $1,100 first-bet insurance when they wager on the NFL Draft. To claim this offer, click here.
Potential Landing Spots
Where might each of these edge rushers go? The oddsmakers at DraftKings have the top five favorites (any position) for each pick in the first round.
- No. 1 (Jaguars): Travon Walker (-225), Aidan Hutchinson (+250), Kayvon Thibodeaux (+5000)
- This is a question of taking the top player available in the draft and the Jaguars need talent. Whether they think it’s Walker or Hutchinson remains to be seen.
- No. 2 (Lions): Aidan Hutchinson (-300), Kayvon Thibodeaux (+350), Travon Walker (+650)
- The Lions allowed the most passing touchdowns and highest passer rating of any team in the league since 2016.
- No. 3 (Texans): Travon Walker (+425), Kayvon Thibodeaux (+450)
- The Texans need talent everywhere. They’ll go with the top rusher available.
- No. 4 (Jets): Kayvon Thibodeaux (+175), Jermaine Johnson II (+350), Aidan Hutchinson (+1800)
- There will be focus on the Jets bolstering their offensive line or finding a playmaker for Zach Wilson, but an ineffective pass rush has to be addressed.
- No. 5 (Giants): Kayvon Thibodeaux (+900)
- The offensive line might be the top priority here, but the Giants and their third-worst pressure percentage last year need a boost.
- No. 7 (Giants): Jermaine Johnson II (+500)
- Only eight teams had fewer sacks than the Giants’ 34 in 2021. Their QB knockdown percentage was fourth-worst in the league (6.7%).
- No. 8 (Falcons): Jermaine Johnson II (+650)
- The Falcons sacked the quarterback just 18 times last season. The next fewest was 29 by the Philadelphia Eagles.
- No. 9 (Seahawks): Jermaine Johnson II (+700)
- One the Legion of Boom, the Seahawks are now the Legion of Snooze. They were a bottom-10 unit in sacks and pressure percentage last season.
- No. 10 (Jets): Jermaine Johnson II (+1000)
- Gang Green’s 33 sacks last season was tied for seventh-fewest in the NFL.
- No. 12 (Vikings): Jermaine Johnson II (+900)
- The Vikings might have finished second in the NFL with 51 sacks last year, but their QB knockdown percentage was seventh-worst in the league, meaning they need to be more efficient on their rushes.
- No. 13 (Texans): Jermaine Johnson II (+1000)
- Only four teams had fewer sacks than the Texans last season.
- No. 14 (Ravens): Jermaine Johnson II (+900)
- You won’t need to twist Baltimore’s arms to pick up a highly-rated pass rusher, especially when their pass-rush was tied for ninth-worst in the NFL.
- No. 15 (Eagles): George Karlaftis (+600), Jermaine Johnson (+800)
- The Eagles had the second-worst pass rush in the NFL last season.
- No. 18 (Eagles): George Karlaftis (+600)
- Philadelphia’s sack rate was just 4.7% despite having middle-of-the-road QB knockdown and pressure putouts.
- No. 21 (Patriots): George Karlaftis (+1200)
- New England’s lack of success in drafting cornerbacks is catching up with them. While they might go that route, they might want to focus on getting to the quarterback sooner to help the secondary out.
- No. 22 (Packers): George Karlaftis (+1100)
- For a team that blitzed just 21.3% of the time last season, getting consistent pressure off the edge should be a must for Green Bay.
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