Every year, the NFL draft has one position group that is deeper than all of the others. This year, the edge rushers are dominating draft talks, with plenty of defensive ends that have the potential to transform a team’s defense.
The top edge defenders available are incredible athletes who dominated play in their respective conferences. This article will rank my top-five edge rushers in the 2022 NFL Draft, including my number one overall prospect.
5. George Karlaftis, Purdue
There may be another “Greek Freak” joining American sports. George Karlaftis was a game-wrecker during his stint with Purdue football and will acclimate well to the professional ranks. In his 6’4”, 280-pound frame, Karlaftis uses his quickness and power to be a constant disruption on the line of scrimmage.
Karlaftis is a lock to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft and could potentially go within the top-10 picks. He would work best in a 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker, but he should be limited in coverage situations.
4. Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
No edge rusher looks as physically imposing as Jermain Johnson II. The former “Last Chance U” star is a freak athlete in a 6’5” 250 pound frame, showing statistical improvements every year at Florida State.
Johnson’s phenomenal strength and playmaking ability assisted him in recording double-digit sacks in 2021. Yet he still has the ability to develop further on an NFL team. He is projected to be selected in the top ten and could be the second edge rusher off the board.
3. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
It’s a mystery where and when Kayvon Thibodeaux will be selected in the NFL draft, as the former odds-on favorite to go first overall seems to be dropping on many teams’ draft boards. Thibodeaux jumps off the screen when Oregon is playing defense, as the 4-3 defensive end dominated opposing PAC-12 offensive lines over multiple seasons.
Despite this, scouts are starting to believe Thibodeaux is overrated compared to his original first-overall designation. Some argue there are still plenty of holes in his game, including his motor and character.
Will Kayvon Thibodeaux be a top-10 pick? Check out our mock of the first 10 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft.
2. Travon Walker, Georgia
No player’s NFL draft stock rose more in the past couple of weeks than Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker. He was an integral part of the reigning national champions’ defense and can excel in any defensive scheme.
Walker has the athleticism and speed to play at outside linebacker and the size and strength to play inside at defensive tackle. In last year’s class, Walker would have been the consensus number one edge rusher, however 2022 has one more star pass rusher ahead of him.
1. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Aidan Hutchinson is pulling away as the top-overall prospect in this year’s draft and is my pick as the best edge rusher in a very deep class. Hutchinson finished as a Heisman Trophy finalist after a dominant 2021 campaign, leading Michigan to its first College Football Playoff appearance in program history.
Hutchinson draws comparisons to the reigning defensive player of the year T.J. Watt, as both excel without a hand in the ground and dominated Big Ten play in similar ways. With less than two weeks to go until the NFL draft, Hutchinson is on a direct path to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will likely take him with the first-overall pick.