Here we are; the second group on defense in our look at position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft: the edge rushers. This group looks to be strong again, just like the last couple of classes. We should see three to four guys go in the 1st round. It was hard to pick just 10 guys.
As always, I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. Be sure to check out my previous part detailing the defensive line, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.
2023 NFL Draft Edge Rushers: The Top 5
- Will Anderson, Alabama: What more needs to be said about Anderson? He is probably the consensus #1 or #2 player in the draft. Despite being just 6’4 245, he has amazing athleticism and explosion in his body. He had a staggering 81 pressures and 15 sacks last season. Physically well developed, but could add 10 pounds to help his play against the run.
- Myles Murphy, Clemson: Murphy is almost the opposite of Anderson. He goes 6’5 275, and his game is based on strength and power. His pass rush moves are underdeveloped, so they need some work. He is already a good run defender. Still a good athlete, though.
- Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame: Foskey is bendy with long arms and tons of potential. Also shows some explosion in his body. It just needs development. Already a good run defender. It took him a couple years to show anything since he was a high school tight end.
- Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech: Wilson is a huge edge rusher at 6’6 275. He had a bit of a break out in 2021. He is a good, but not elite, athlete. He looks like more of a pure 4-3 DE. He has improved as a pass rusher each season. Wilson has 40 pressures and 7 sacks this season already. He is still developing.
- Andre Carter, Army: Andre Carter might be a bigger freak athlete than Will Anderson. Just due to his sheer size, length, and athleticism. He is just so raw at this point. He is 6’6 260 with 33 3/4″ arms. Army even drops him in coverage and he moves like a man that is four inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter. His production was crazy last season for someone like him. He had 59 pressures and 15 sacks. Run defense and tackling are also a work in progress.
2023 NFL Draft Edge Rushers: Best of the Rest
6. Zach Harrison, Ohio State: Harrison has been a solid all-around player since 2020. He has the size and athleticism to play in a 4-3 or 3-4. At 6’5 266 and a 40-yard dash time in the 4.6 range, he can do different things. He is a little stiff, but is explosive. He has had trouble converting pressures to sacks. Harrison has just seven sacks the last two seasons, but 47 pressures. If he can improve that, he can move up more.
7. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State: Had a bit of a breakout season in 2021. Anudike-Uzomah had 43 pressures and 13 sacks last season. He has also been a solid run defender since his freshman season. The question was could he be more consistent in 2022? Nine of his sacks in 2021 were in two games. In 2022, his numbers have been more spread out, although his overall numbers are down a little. He has the size and athleticism to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4.
8. Jared Verse, Florida State: Verse is a very good pass rusher who transferred from Albany that not a lot of people knew of. He started off the season fast with three sacks in the first two games, but got injured and slowed down in the middle of the season. He’s displayed high level speed, explosion, and bend — when he’s been healthy — as well as a developed repertoire of moves. His weaknesses seem to be an inconsistent play against the run, and he needs to tackle better.
9. Nick Hampton, Appalachian State: An undersized pass rusher, Hampton has been a player since 2019. He finally put on some weight in 2022 and is up to 235, so he is still a bit undersized and needs another 10-15 pounds. He does have 34″ arms, which helps a lot to mitigate his lack of bulk. Hampton had a big year in 2021 with 52 pressures and 12 sacks. While his numbers are down a little like everyone else, he is still productive. He has been good all around, although his play against the run can be a little up and down.
10. BJ Ojulari, LSU: Brother of Azeez, he could go earlier than his brother went. He has been a good run defender since he stepped on campus, despite his size (6’3 250). Ojulari has really come on as a pass rusher in 2022. 31 pressures and seven sacks on the year for the speedy pass rusher. He could improve as a tackler and add some bulk.