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 AFC?
AFC North: OLB T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
Sack Projection: 14
T.J. is in a contract year and I think he is going to put on a little show for us. Watt is an incredibly athletic technician who owns real estate in your favorite team’s backfield. He is a TFL monster and will relentlessly fight to get sacks. No tackle can really plan for Watt and if his first move fails, his second one won’t. Theres not much to it for T.J., he is just a game wrecker in a contract year. Expect big things.
AFC North Dark Horse: DE Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
AFC South: OLB Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars
Sack Projection: 12
Now that Josh Allen is back at OLB and in an Urban Meyer defense, his sack production should return to where it was his rookie season and then some. That whole Jags defense was such a mess in 2020 that I don’t blame Allen for making a steep decline. Josh is a freakish athlete with an expansive pass rush arsenal. In a division with strong left tackles, I don’t think Allen is in the running for league leader in sacks but he’ll definitely get the best of these big men every once in awhile. This is a sound looking Jags defense on paper and I think Allen is gearing up to be the leader of it.
AFC South Dark Horse: OLB Bud Dupree, Tennessee Titans
AFC West: OLB Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos
Sack Projection: 13.5
I think Bradley Chubb is one of the best edge rushers in the NFL in terms of pure talent. He moves like a 150 pound track athlete and shows the power of a 350 pound nose tackle. After learning from Von Miller for three years, Chubb has learned quite a bit about how to effectively use his physical traits and how to be a technician. Bradley is now healthy, developed, and primed for a big season in the Mile High City. He has been pretty quiet after his rookie season but that ends now. Look out world, this is a fearsome Bradley Chubb.
AFC West Dark Horse: OLB Uchenna Nwosu, Los Angeles Chargers
AFC East: DE Carl Lawson, New York Jets
Sack Projection: 12.5
Carl Lawson is a rare athlete who has showed big progression in terms of technique over the last four years. Lawson is someone who frequently hits the quarterback but can’t seem to get those sack numbers up. That ends now. Carl is now in a Robert Saleh defense that flows through the pass rush. Saleh will turn Carl Lawson’s QB hits into sacks and will make sure Carl is ready to be the leader of his defense. This is one of the more underrated signings of the offseason.
AFC East Dark Horse: OLB Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins