Will Anderson Jr.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 31: Will Anderson Jr. #31 of the Alabama Crimson Tide stands on the field during the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Caesars Superdome on December 31, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Alabama Crimson Tide won the game 45 - 20. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings: EDGE Rushers

2023 NFL Draft Top EDGE Rushers

Here are the 2023 NFL Draft position rankings for the top edge rushers in this year’s draft class, per Mike Wilson.

Top 10 EDGE Rushers

1. Will Anderson Jr., Alabama (6’3 1/2″ 253 pounds)

Anderson Jr. is multiple award winner including the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, and Lombardi Award. Former SEC All-Freshman, Two Time SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Two Time First-Team All-SEC, and Two Time All American. From Lance Zierlein (NFL Analyst): “Three-year starter for vaunted Alabama program with eye-popping production that encapsulates his potential impact. Anderson is well-built with long arms. He has the rush get-off and skill level to consistently shave edges or pry open rush paths with inside moves. Even when he’s blocked around the arc or on the diagonal, Anderson’s footwork, cornering and closing speed help him dive into the pocket. There is room for more growth with hand usage and he will need to prove he can keep racking up the sack totals outside of Nick Saban’s scheme. Anderson is suited to a 3-4 front, where he can play wider to better allow his length to overcome size deficiencies at the point of attack. His traits, athleticism and production against high-level competition are indicators of a Pro Bowl future.”

“Power Five players with traits who get sacks in college are going to get sacks in the pros. Anderson is way more likely to succeed than any of these quarterbacks (in the draft). It’s not even close.” — Executive for NFC team

2. Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech (6’6″ 271 pounds)

From Lance Zierlein: “Long-limbed defender who figures to turn into a full-blown nightmare for opponents if he continues to grow into both his frame and his game. Wilson’s combination of traits and athleticism should yield flashes of dominant play in both phases as he continues to get bigger and stronger. His length and lateral quickness are ingredients for chaos as a back-side run game disruptor. He’s capable of ranging and tackling from distance if the run flows wide. On the flip side, he’s not very instinctive as a run defender and his play demeanor could stand to be a little thornier when attacking blocks. Wilson has the physical tools to create pocket push as a power rusher early on, but the hand usage and rush plan will need tutoring for him to become a well-rounded, two-way rusher. He might not set the world on fire in Year 1, but the talent and vaulted ceiling will be easy to see soon enough.”

3. Myles Murphy, Clemson (6’5″ 268 pounds)

Murphy led Clemson with 12 TFLs in 2020 (Freshman All-American), and again in 2021 with 14 TFLs (Second-Team All-ACC). He led Clemson with 6.5 sacks in 2022 earning him First-Team All-ACC. From Lance Zierlein: “Murphy has excellent size/traits and has been consistently productive in impact categories for three straight years. He plays with a plus motor and good first-step quickness, but his game isn’t really twitchy or explosive. He has finishing talent when he’s inside the pocket, but he needs to vary his rush angles and find an effective inside counter, as NFL tackles will be expecting his long-arm bull-rush technique. Murphy’s length and post-up strength could provide the scheme and positional versatility that puts him on every draft board. The traits and upside are there, but his skill level needs a boost to push the ceiling higher.”

4. Lukas Van Ness, Iowa (6’5″ 272 pounds)

Van Ness ran an impressive 4.58 40-Yard Dash at the NFL Combine. He is a freak athlete. From Lance Zierlein: “Nicknamed “Hercules” by teammates, Van Ness is a well-developed defensive end with excellent lean mass and additional growth still to come. He’s a power-centric prospect with force as his modus operandi as both a run defender and pass rusher. Van Ness needs to work on hand attacks for quicker block shedding and to diversify his rush beyond bull-rush challenges. He’s taken snaps inside at Iowa but might need to keep filling out his frame before he’s ready to succeed as a run stuffer and pass rusher as a 4i in a 3-4 front. Van Ness is more of a splash player than consistent force on tape, but he possesses projectable traits that should allow for continued ascension as a pro.”

5. Nolan Smith, Georgia (6’2″ 238 pounds)

Smith ran a ridiculous 4.39 40-Yard Dash at the NFL Combine. He put up other impressive numbers like his 41.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-8 broad jump. From Lance Zierlein: “Lower weight class edge defender with the toughness to mix it up with bigger players. Based purely upon his sleek but smallish frame, one might expect him to be more effective as a rusher than run defender but the opposite is true. Smith is hard to move off of his spot due to his technique and leverage, and he can be disruptive when firing into gaps. He can get off the mark as a rusher, but lacks the counters and contact balance to consistently assault the pocket at a high rate. Smith falls below the size standards some team might have for a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he plays team-first defense with quality technique that should help him translate to the pros.”

6. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State (6’4″ 239 pounds)

McDonald IV was running a fever during the NFL Combine, but that didn’t prevent him from recording an impressive 11-foot broad jump. From Lance Zierlein: “McDonald is an explosive, pliable edge talent whose active hands and eager feet make it hard for tackles to get a firm grip on him. His burst and lower-body flexion give him an advantage at the top of the rush, while his spin moves and feel for pocket depth round out his attack. He has good strength for his size and plays with admirable contact balance against bigger players, but setting firm edges and holding his ground against a downhill running attack could be an issue. Overall, McDonald’s hard-nosed demeanor and pass-rush talent are winning play traits that will help him become a successful 3-4 outside linebacker and sack artist.”

7. B.J. Ojulari, LSU (6’2″ 248 pounds)

Ojulari registered a 32.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-6 broad jump at the NFL Combine. From Lance Zierlein: “Stand-up rush linebacker with upside as a pass rusher but inconsistent effort stopping the run. Ojulari is bendy as an edge rusher and will wreak substantially more pocket havoc once he builds a more complete rush plan. He plays contain as a run defender and has the pursuit speed to spill the run wide or make tackles in space, but needs to play with consistent effort on all run snaps. B.J. Ojulari possesses all the tools necessary to start for an NFL team once he adds a bit more polish to his game.”

8. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State (6’3″ 255 pounds)

Anudike-Uzomah didn’t participate in any testing at the NFL Combine. From Lance Zierlein: “A hard-charging edge prospect, Anudike-Uzomah has good strength and a long frame that should continue to fill out. His run defense is unrefined and in need of better fundamentals, but he’s clearly gone to school on his pass-rush approach, adding several new wrinkles to his attack in 2022. His urgency leads to playmaking opportunities, but he will need to harness that energy and play with better control to become a more efficient defender. There is more polish needed, but Anudike-Uzomah’s NFL rush potential should eventually make him an NFL starter.”

9. Tuli Tuipulotu, USC (6’3″ 266 pounds)

Tuipulotu didn’t participate in any testing at the NFL Combine. From Lance Zierlein: “Defender possessing the rare blend of size, strength and athleticism to line up as an interior or edge defender in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts. Tuipulotu plays with a go-go motor from the first snap to the last. His heavy-handed attack and ability to shed help compensate for a lack of length at the point of attack, while quick feet help him disrupt in gaps. He can play with a hand down or standing but needs to play with better discipline to eliminate voided fits. Tuipulotu is a power-based rusher with decent bend and flatten talent but he’s unlikely to win with his get-off alone. He should become a good starter.”

10. Keion White, Georgia Tech (6’5″ 285 pounds)

White put up great numbers at the NFL Combine earning him a total score of 80, which was #3 overall for EDGE. From Lance Zierlein: “Athletic big man offering scheme versatility and projectable upside. White has good short-area quickness as well as speed in space. He lacks consistent early phase technique to control the rep, but his recovery talent, hustle and athletic traits put him in position to get in on the action. His pass rush is predictable and lacks focus, but he’s bendy and could take a big leap forward in this department provided the coaching catches up with the physical gifts. He’s still in the developmental phase, but his physical/athletic profile gives him a chance to become a plus starter as a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive end.”