The Minnesota Vikings made a big move on Sunday by ending the Yannick Ngakoue sweepstakes and pairing arguably the biggest name remaining on the trading block with a Pro Bowl pass rusher of their own in Danielle Hunter. The Jacksonville Jaguars, meanwhile, surrendered arguably one of the top building blocks of their roster by offloading Ngakoue from their young defensive line.
The surprise Jaguars-Vikings swap got us thinking, though: In the wake of Minnesota and Jacksonville drastically altering their edge rushing tandems, which teams around the NFL own the best of the best when it comes to pass rushers?
Lucky for you, we ranked every single one. Below, you’ll find a rundown of all 32 teams’ starting edge rushers, from worst to first. (Hint: The Vikings got quite a boost from their Ngakoue trade.)
Read up and let us know how we did. Just remember, this is all about edge rushers, so while guys like Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox may serve as primary pass rushers for their respective teams, we tried to keep this as close to outside defenders as possible, with the exception of 3-4 defensive ends like J.J. Watt who specialize in rushing off the edge.
Burns has exciting tools but remains unproven. Weatherly, meanwhile, is a career reserve.
Winovich is a fine prospect, and these are the Pats, so watch Copeland go off. Still, it’s a project.
The salary cap killed their shot at re-signing Dante Fowler. They should be thankful Aaron Donald is in the middle.
Golden deserves applause for his 2019 resurgence, but is anyone even remotely scared lining up against them?
You could easily vouch for Crosby (10 sacks in 2019) over Seattle’s bunch, but Ferrell is still a total unknown.
Irvin is fine as a strict pass rushing specialist, but there’s a reason they’ve been hunting for big-name help.
Replace Beasley with Jadeveon Clowney, and you’re talking about a leap up of at least a half-dozen spots.
Give Houston credit for quietly regaining double-digit sack form in 2019, but their strength is on the interior.
Motown has really dampened Flowers’ image; he’s better than this. Still, the unit remains uninspiring.
Both guys, along with Emmanuel Ogbah, should be used creatively by Brian Flores.
If Ron Rivera has one thing going for him, it’s the quality of freakish talent up front. Young is scary to simply look at.
The Jags may be dysfunctional from the top down, but lately they’ve known how to procure young edge talent.
While Judon is admired in the building and benefits from Baltimore’s setup, they could still use an upgrade.
McKinley himself has declared 2020 a boom-or-bust year. Fowler, however, brings real juice after an L.A. breakout.
Hughes probably deserves more credit despite mid-tier numbers. Addison is a quality short-term rental.
Their defense may have been bad in 2019, but Dunlap is still consistent at 31. Hubbard is a breakout candidate.
This is representative of Graham’s career: Never quite elite, but always scrappy with a dose of timely big plays.
Okafor is hardly top-15 material, but no one would pass up on Clark’s impact as a disruptive No. 1.
At this point, it’s foolish to rely on Watt for 16 games, but at maximum strength, the results are still there.
The average fan might not consider them elite, but they combined for 25.5 sacks in their first run together.
It all comes down to Jones, who’s somehow still flying under the radar despite a Hall of Fame sack pace since 2015.
Even if Barrett’s ridiculous breakout is unlikely to be replicated, the Bucs are working with a nice one-two punch here. Barrett brings the youthful upside, while Pierre-Paul brings underrated experience and imposing size.
A classic case of the top guy carrying the duo. Plug just about anyone else in there opposite Garrett, and you’re still talking about a pair most teams would die for. At just 24, Garrett definitely has 20-sack potential.
Both guys had down years in 2019 — Miller as part of an in-transition defense and Chubb because of a season-ending injury. But make no mistake: When healthy, they’re about as rock-solid of a duo as you can get.
Dupree finally came on as a sack artist in 2019 after a so-so run as a trench-filler. But the real gem here is Watt, whose trajectory makes him a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
This team rarely gets credit for its defense because of all the firepower on the other side of the ball, but this is a Grade-A pressure team. Jordan’s now had three straight years with at least 12 sacks.
The ‘Boys really struck gold by waiting on Griffen and capitalizing on his market. He’s as steady as they come and should help Lawrence get back to double-digit sacks immediately.
You could make a strong case they belong at No. 3. At peak performance, Bosa is as good as anyone. Ingram, meanwhile, rounds out the duo with enviable consistency, even if he’s not quite as much of a threat to terrorize on a weekly basis.
Quinn may or may not replicate his 2019 production, but DEs can age well. The obvious X-factor here is Mack, whose raw tenacity simply cannot be matched. He alone is the reason Chicago ranks above more balanced pairings in Dallas and L.A.
2. Minnesota Vikings: Danielle Hunter, Yannick Ngakoue
Yes, really. Hunter is criminally underrated and a true physical freak. Ngakoue isn’t as imposing against the run, but you don’t rack up 37.5 sacks in four years by accident. The youth and upside are just a bonus. This could be a No. 1-worthy pairing in a year or two.
This is as close to edge-rushing perfection as you’ll get. Armstead still isn’t as much of a household name as his numbers would suggest, but paired with Bosa, the hottest young DE in the league, he makes a Super Bowl-caliber tandem.