Ranking the Top 5 Edge Rushers for the 2023 NFL Season

Micah Parsons

Getty Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after a sack.

The 2023 NFL season will be here before you know it. Along with the quest for the Lombardi Trophy kicking off in earnest, debates over the best players in the NFL will begin anew.

As training camps opening and the Detroit Lions vs. Kansas City Chiefs on opening night getting closer by the day, Heavy is taking a deep-dive into every position in an ongoing series ranking the top-5 players in the NFL, by position, for the upcoming 2023 campaign.

Next up: Edge rushers.

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Previous editions: Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Offensive Tackles | Interior Offensive Linemen

1. Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

The has been speculation that Micah Parsons will be moving back to his natural position, defensive end, full-time in 2023. That would horrifying news for opposing quarterbacks, if Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn would buy in.

Parsons‘ explosiveness is unmatched, as is his versatility to get after quarterbacks off the edge, or wreak havoc as an inside linebacker. A strong case can be made that Parsons is the most disruptive defensive player in the NFL, by a fairly wide margin.

Over the past two seasons since being chosen in the first-round out of Penn State, Parsons 26.5 sacks, and Pro Football Focus credits him with 157 quarterback pressures over that span. Just imagine how prolific Parsons is going to be rushing the passer on every down. Parsons just might finally take home his first Defensive Player of The Year Award.

2. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

The reigning NFL Defensive Player of The Year, Nick Bosa, has been instrumental to the 49ers developing into one of the more prolific and intimidating defenses in the league.

Bosa is an athletic freak who is in the backfield nearly as often as the running backs tasked with being the last line of defense against him wrecking the quarterback’s day are. Last season, Bosa led the league with 19.0 sacks, and that’s while drawing more double-teams than any defender in the NFL.

Beyond just rushing the passer, Bosa is a significant factor against the run, as well. Last season, Bosa’s 19 tackles for loss tied for second-most across the league, and managed 90 total pressures, including 30 quarterback hits. After the 49ers added disruptive interior lineman Javon Hargrave via free agency this offseason, expect Bosa to be even more difficult to contain in 2023.

3. Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns

There might not be a more fundamentally sound, disruptive, and dominant edge rusher in the sport right now than Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett.

Garrett possesses the rare combination of speed, explosiveness, strength, and instincts, with the bend to squeeze through the narrowest of caverns that have made him one of the more consistently dominant players at the position.

Last season, Garrett led the NFL in pass-rush win rate, at 26.4%, and has produced double-digit sacks for five consecutive seasons. At age 27, Garrett remains one of the premier players at the position, after tying a career-high 16.0 sacks in 2022.

4. Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders

There’s a reason Maxx Crosby strikes fear into opposing offensive tackles, and it’s because he’s one of the quickest rushers off the edge in the game today, and he’s also capable of overpowering opponents with his pure strength.

Only two other edge rushers had more than Crosby’s 81 pressures last season, and he produced 12.5 sacks during a stellar 2022 campaign on an otherwise unremarkable Raiders defense.

Over the past two seasons, Crosby has logged 182 pressures, which leads the league. If he can continue on this trajectory, there’s a strong chance Crosby winds up significantly higher on this list by season’s end.

5. T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

T.J. Watt has firmly established himself as one of the NFL’s premier pass-rushers, earning a reputation as a relentless force off the edge.

Watt’s exceptional skill-set is highlighted by his high-motor, combined with elite speed and agility off the edge. Watt’s ability to bend around the edge with exceptional flexibility and body control puts immense pressure on opposing tackles, making it difficult for them to contain his rush.

The focal point of the Steelers‘ front-seven, Watt is a year removed from a 22.5-sack outburst in 2021, and has carded 48 sacks over the past four seasons, underscoring his dominance.