I’m over the moon for the group of edge rushers in the 2023 NFL Draft this spring featuring a deep class of pocket pushers that’ll wreak havoc from day one. With so many names and unique skill sets, narrowing down to my top 10 was a challenge, but here is how my big board of future sack artists sits with the 2023 NFL Draft about a month away.
1. Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
A name we’ve heard for some time, Anderson Jr. is my top player in the 2023 NFL Draft class. He was unblockable for a majority of his career in Tuscaloosa and is someone whose advanced pass rush approach, hands, and ability to succeed on all three downs showcases a future All-Pro.
2. Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest bit if Wilson were to win DROY next fall. A long, athletic, twitched-up edge rusher whose blend of size and speed will give offensive tackles fits, his best football, scarily, remains down the road.
3. Nolan Smith, Georgia
One of the top run defenders in the draft class, if Smith is able to fine-tune his pass-rush repertoire, look out. A former five-star recruit, he checks off every box you look for in a modern 5-tech.
4. Myles Murphy, Clemson
A grown bleepin’ man on the edge, I want to see Murphy diversify his rush plan outside of his patented long-arm, but everything is there for him to succeed. The way he moves laterally and how he attacks angles makes it a pain to block him one-on-one.
5. Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
If you were to take the Northwestern logo off his helmet and throw on a Georgia, Alabama, or Ohio State logo, he may go top 10. Helmet scouting is unfortunately a real thing, but Adebawore possesses all of the traits you desire in a positional flex defender that could tease 10-plus sacks from both 3 or 5-tech.
6. Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
He’s not as sexy athletically as some guys on this list, but Van Ness is extremely refined in the way he wins and reminds me a ton of George Karlaftis from last spring. He won’t bend the edge at full speed or spin off a hand counter from a tackle, but he wins with power, isn’t a liability in the run game, and will have an impact from day one.
7. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
One of my favorite talents in the edge group, ‘FAU’ is one of the most explosive athletes in the draft class. I love the way he plays football and he could sneakily become one of the headliners of this group in due time. He needs work against the run, but there isn’t a move he doesn’t have in his pass-rush bag of goodies that should allow him to push the pocket with consistency.
8. B.J. Ojulari, LSU
An extremely young prospect who still is just scratching the surface of his potential, Ojulari was a fun study this winter. As crazy as it sounds, Ojulari won a bunch in the SEC just off athleticism, and refining his game could see him enjoy a ton of success. He has an excellent get-off, a flexible lower half, can play through contact, and has the flattening ability to close any space inside the pocket.
9. Derick Hall, Auburn
Hall moves like a darn safety at 254 pounds. Uber physical when asked to anchor in the run, he shined down at the Senior Bowl in one-on-ones and is someone whose power could overwhelm offensive tackles. His initial punch can knock linemen on their backsides in the blink of an eye.
10. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
McDonald’s 2021 tape was a clinic on how to win one-on-ones. While teams doubled and triple-teamed him in 2022 to limit production, he won’t have that attention right away on Sundays that should allow him to showcase his elite bend and twitch. He’s as slippery as they come in the draft class that has the best spin move of any player in 2023.
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