Pro Football Weekly's 2018 EDGE rankings

Miller? Mack? Jones' edge heat in desert lands him at No. 1 in 2018 rankings

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Pro Football Weekly’s player rankings are compiled with the help of NFL evaluators and coaches, with input from the entire PFW staff. Players are ranked on their performances to date at positions they’ve played and are not projected at new positions which they might move. Rookies are not included in the rankings. NFL personnel participated on condition of anonymity.

We continue our player ratings with PFW’s top 10 EDGE rushers. For the full rankings (1-27) and player ratings for every position, along with team-by-team season previews, get our Pro Football Weekly NFL Preview Magazine on newsstands now and online.

1. Chandler Jones, Cardinals

Jones was solid in 2016, after the Patriots dealt him to the Cardinals for Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick — which is a steep price to pay by NFL standards. But he made Steve Keim look like a genius last season, erupting for 17 sacks – three more than the next-best total in the league – and additonal tackles for loss. His 40 ½ sacks over the last three seasons firmly establish him as the NFL’s premier pass rusher today. At 6-5, 260, Jones is built to be an end in a '40' front but appears to have no issues standing up outside in a '30' front, or putting a hand on the ground.

2. Von Miller, Broncos

Miller is still a devastating pass rusher, but his production has slowed the past few seasons, and it’s hard to know for sure how much of that to chalk up to the Broncos' changing fortunes. He was selected to his fourth straight Pro Bowl last season (and sixth overall), and Miller was first-team All Pro in 2012, 2015 and 2016 (and second team in 2011, 2014 and 2017), so there is no challenging his spot on this list. But his 10 sacks last year were the fewest he’s had in a full season — Miller had five in 2013, when he missed half of the season with a torn ACL — and with 34 ½ over the last three seasons combined, he is well below the 44 he totaled in his first three healthy seasons.

3. Calais Campbell, Jaguars

Campbell might not be a household name among NFL fans, but talk to players, coaches and scouts, and his name will come up at or near the top of every one of their lists of the best five D-lineman in the league. Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars rewarded him with a $60-million free agent deal (including $30 million guaranteed) and made him a '40' front end of the first time — though, like in Arizona, he wreaked havoc from virtually every spot along the line. At 6-8, 282 pounds, he’s one of the biggest defensive players in the NFL, and Campbell's great length and massive wingspan make it almost impossible for blockers to get into his body.

4. Cameron Jordan, Saints

Since entering the league in 2011, Jordan has been a very solid football player for the Saints, but he became a dominant one in 2017, when he led a resurgent New Orleans group with 13 sacks, four more tackles for loss, 11 passes defensed, one interception and two fumbles forced. At 6-4, 287 pounds, he is another of our top edge rushers better suited to be a hand-on-the-ground '40' front right end than 3-4 outside rusher — apparently a new trend in the league, as all of our top eight fit that mold except Miller — and he took over games in 2017 on a weekly basis.

5. Joey Bosa, Chargers

There was no sophomore slump for Bosa, who burst onto the scene in 2016 with 10 ½ sacks in just 12 games after a protracted training camp holdout, and then notched 12 ½ more sacks last season in a full 16 starts. At 6-5, 280 pounds, Bosa blends excellent athleticism and technique with great natural power and solid bloodlines, as his father was an NFL pass rusher and his younger brother is now a star at Ohio State. He is also a big-play guy; only three players in the league had more than Bosa’s four forced fumbles last season.

6. Everson Griffen, Vikings

Griffen has been a regular on this list for four or five years now, but 2017 was his best season as a pro, with 13 sacks tying him for fourth in the league, along with three tackles for loss and three fumbles forced, helping to earn him his third straight Pro Bowl nod. Clearly, Griffen benefits from playing on the best D-line in the NFL, totaling 43 ½ sacks over the last four seasons, but it is just as clear that Griffen is one of the biggest reasons that unit is the best.

7. Khalil Mack, Raiders

The Raiders list Mack as an end in their 4-3 base defense, but at 6-3, 250, he is one of the best natural pass rushers in the NFL regardless of where he lines up. His encore last season to his 2016 Defensive MVP campaign was bound to be difficult, but Mack was dominant again with 10 ½ sacks, 4 tackles for loss, and 78 total tackles, showing again that he also plays the run as well as any edge defender in the game. Mack has been to the Pro Bowl the past three seasons, and was first-team All Pro in 2015 and 2016.

8. Demarcus Lawrence, Cowboys

Lawrence had a breakout campaign in 2017 with 14 ½ sacks to trail only Jones. Also helping set him apart from the pack, Lawrence's sacks totaled 160 yards in losses — 47 yards more than Jones’ 17 sacks yielded, and 64 more than every other NFL defender. His performance earned him his first Pro Bowl nod, and Lawrence gains additional respect because the Cowboys D-line unit is questionable at several other spots, forcing him to carry much of the pass-rush load.

9. Jadeveon Clowney, Texans

Clowney proved in 2017 that he is on this list to stay for a while. Injuries limited the former No. 1 overall pick to four, 13 and 14 games, respectively, in his first three seasons. But in those 14 games last year, Clowney arrived as a physical presence and disruptive presence who would not be denied. Although he totaled just six sacks in ’16, he added 12 tackles for loss, and last season he blew both those numbers away with 9 ½ sacks and 14 tackles for loss — earning him his second straight Pro Bowl nod. Clowney, who was constantly the offense's focal point in the absence of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, is a physical mismatch for many NFL O-linemen.

10. Justin Houston, Chiefs

Justin Houston might never match his 22-sack season in 2014, and it looked as if his career could be in jeopardy when his knees limited him to just 11 games in 2015 and five games in ’16. But, at times last year, the old Houston was back as he notched 9 ½ sacks, 5 tackles for loss and 5 passes defensed, playing a good part of the season in the opponents’ backfield. Houston is more a 3-4 outside linebacker than a defensive end, and he has arguably the best first step in the league, helping him to beat opposing tackles before they are even out of their stances.

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