The Top 10 NFL Edge Rushers for 2021

Stoney Keeley continues his look at the NFL as the 2021 season approaches. Today, we're looking at the top 10 NFL edge rushers.

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It’s summertime offseason content time! As the season approaches, I’m going to be taking a look at the landscape of the NFL, position by position, over the course of the next several weeks. We’ll be talking about the who’s who of the NFL in our own little version of the NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players” bit they do every year. Up next, we’re talking about the top 10 NFL edge rusher for 2021!

It’s one of the most important positions on the defense, and it’s a downright art to master – the pass rush. That’s what we’re here to talk about today….the guys that just get out there and get after the quarterback. Let’s get through some honorable mentions before the main list. I’ve always been a fan of edge rushing stalwarts Brandon Graham and Danielle Hunter, and think they’re still plenty effective for their respective teams. But, there’s a lot of young pass rush talent in the league now that’s bumped them out of the top 10. Montez Sweat looks like one of the more promising young edge rushers in the league. And, I’m also a big fan of Carl Lawson and the tool kit he possesses. With an expanded role in that Jets defense, I wouldn’t be surprised to seem him develop into a monster. Alright – on to the top 10!

The Top 10 NFL Edge Rushers for 2021

10. Za’Darius Smith, Green Bay Packers – Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to Smith. His 12.5 sacks in 2020 was tied for 4th in the NFL, and he was voted 2nd team All-Pro by the AP. He is as effective as anyone in the league when it comes to generate pressure, particularly in between the tackles.

9. Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers – Maybe it’s a bit early to put him in the top 10 conversation….maybe this is based more on projection than production…but hot damn….I love me some Brian Burns. That explosive first step…the bend…he has all the makings of an elite pass rusher in the NFL. My bet here is that he continues to develop and gets more sack production in 2021.

8. DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys – Lawrence only had 6.5 sacks in 2020, but he was PFF’s 4th highest rated edge defender. He’s been one of the best and most complete edge rushers in the league for years at this point, even if it does feel weird to say that about any Cowboys defender after the season that unit had…

7. Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints – Jordan feels like a bit of an unsung guy in the elite pass rusher conversation, but the man has been nothing but consistent throughout his time in New Orleans. He may be the best pure run defender in the NFL at the defensive end position.

6. Chase Young, Washington Football Team – Young looks like he was built specifically to rush quarterbacks in the NFL. Dude is the prototype – he’s an athletic freak that is unusually polished for such a young pass rusher, and he can set the edge in the run game to boot. The more experience he gets, the higher he’ll likely climb on this year.

5. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers – The thing you notice right away about Nick Bosa is just how refined he is as a pass rusher. Both Bosas are fundamentally sound in the art of the pass rush. The major question for Nick Bosa heading into 2021 is how he rebounds from a torn ACL, but if he can get right, he should take his spot among the elite edge rushers in the NFL.

4. Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers – I mean, really….take your pick with the Bosa brothers. They’re both Pro Bowlers. They’re both pass rush fiends. You can’t go wrong. I give Joey the edge, assuming both are 100% and healthy, because he has an added dimension to his game as one of the best edge setters in the run game in the league.

3. Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns – Garrett is an absolute freak of nature with a knack for pure pass rushing. He was 6th in the NFL in sacks a season ago with 12 and earned 1st team All-Pro honors in the process. If he could stay healthy

2. T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers – Watt has emerged as one of the best defensive players in the game over the course of the last couple of seasons. He was voted a Pro Bowler and 1st team All-Pro by the AP a season ago, when he also led the league in sacks with 15. His sack production makes him one of the best in the game today.

1. Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears – Yeah, this one’s easy. Since entering the league, Mack has been one of the most dominant forces on the defensive side of the ball in the entire NFL. In 2020, the sacks didn’t quite come like they used to, but this guy is still as much of a headache for offensive coordinators as ever. Mack went to the Pro Bowl in 2020, and was named 1st team All-Pro by the PFWA.

OTHER 2021 NFL TOP 10S

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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