We all know how important pass rush is, especially in today’s NFL with the elevated level of quarterback play. Getting after the quarterback is how you stop offenses and how you win Super Bowls. There are tons of premier pass rushers in the NFL today so we are going to hone in and look at the edge rushers. Setting an edge and beating tackles is crucial to the success of each and every defense in the NFL. So who’s going to be the best of the best in the NFC?
NFC North: OLB Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
Sack projection: 13.5
We need to appreciate Khalil Mack a little bit more. He attracts as much attention as Aaron Donald and still produces big TFL and sack numbers week in and week out. Khalil is one of those few players in the league who can single handedly take over a game. He was worth everything Chicago traded for him and then some. Mack is a very powerful player, as evident by his massive muscles, yet still plays with the finesse and speed of a linebacker. Very rarely do we see this combination of raw physicality and athleticism mixed with technique. We are watching a future HOFer and need to show a little more appreciation. Mack is consistently in DPOY talks and people want to complain about how he only got nine sacks. You wouldn’t get ten sacks either if you were triple teamed on every snap.
NFC North Dark Horse: DE Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings
NFC South: DE Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers
Sack Projection: 13
Brian Burns is just grazing the surface of his potential and he should absolutely explode this season in Matt Rhule’s new look defense. He has great size and plays with a rare combination of technique and speed. He isn’t going to be flattening tackles with his power but he shows a level of finesse that you just don’t see very often. Burns will be the go to premier pass rusher in Carolina for a long time to come. Brian is an established talent who is poised to harass offenses on a line with Derrick Brown and Haason Reddick.
NFC South Dark Horse: DE Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints
NFC West: DE Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
Sack Projection: 11.5
He may be coming back from a major injury but Nick Bosa is the best leverage rusher I have ever studied on film. He is a polished pass rusher who wreaks havoc on each and every tackle he faces. He warrants double teams on every snap and maybe he was over glorified in Robert Saleh’s defense but this dude’s raw talent is off the charts. The tackles in this division are still weak to me and I think Nick Bosa will take advantage of that while posting a 10+ sack season picking up right where he left off.
NFC West Dark Horse: DE Kerry Hyder Jr., Seattle Seahawks
NFC East: DE Chase Young, Washington Football Team
Sack Projection: 15
I think Chase you is a Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald level talent who is going to harass the NFC East for the next 10+ years. He is massive, he is powerful, he is athletic, he is quick, he is technically sound, and he shows graceful finesse. Chase Young is everything you could ever want in an edge rusher and he is going to make a big leap his second year in the league. When you’re on a line with Da’Ron Payne, Jon Allen, and Montez Sweat, sacks will come fairly easy. I can easily see Chase Young going for 15+ sacks next season too.
NFC East Dark Horse: DE Montez Sweat, Washington Football Team