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Steelers 2023 NFL Draft Big Board: EDGE rusher rankings and analysis

The BTSC Big Board crew is back and ready to break down every noteworthy EDGE rusher in the NFL Draft.

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Alabama v Kansas State Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Draft season is here, ladies and gentleman, and BTSC is excited to bring you our exclusive NFL Draft Big Board for the third consecutive year! Between January and April, we will be giving you an in-depth look at over 200 prospects in this draft class, ranking and analyzing noteworthy prospects at each position.

We will unveil this board one position at a time, with the final top 250 draft board coming out right before the draft. This compilation of rankings, stats, and analysis is completed by a combination of BTSC staff and community members. The rankings and grades are my own and will be updated throughout the process, while the stats and measurables are compiled by site moderator SNW. The analysis is a collaborative effort, which includes myself, Ryland B., Jeremy Betz, Noah_E., Necksnation, John O’Malley, Adam Curry, and Steve Martucci.

As it pertains to the grading scale, first-round grades will include top-five, top-ten, mid first, and late first grades. Rounds 2-4 will have early, mid, and late grades, while grades fifth round or worse will have a generic round grade. Prospects with a Round 7 grade will not be differentiated from those with an undrafted grade.

Just like last year, each big board article will be a complemented by a separate article discussing whether or not the Steelers should draft said position in the 2023 NFL Draft. Ryland will be heading up that portion of the draft coverage once again this year.

Today, we will be taking a closer look at the class of EDGE rushers. One of the deepest positions in the draft, EDGE rusher boasts many high-profile names, including arguably the best player in the draft: Will Anderson. There are also intriguing depth options for both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes once we hit Day 3.

If you have any thoughts on this EDGE rusher class, be sure to share it in the comment section below. Let’s dive in!

1. Will Anderson | Alabama | 6‘4”, 235 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 51, TFL 17, S 10, PD 1, FR 0, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: 1st Overall

Andrew Wilbar: Anyone who records 58.5 tackles for loss and 34.5 sacks in just 3 seasons is the definition of a beast, regardless of competition level. Many want to knock Anderson for the downtick in production in 2022, but he still recorded 17 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. On a “down” year! Anderson is not the biggest of pass rushers, but he is stronger than his frame suggests. Displaying elite quickness out of his stance, Anderson does a great job getting his hands on opposing linemen and getting leverage early in the rep, giving him the ability to bullrush. However, the most dangerous aspect of his game is his bend. His agile hips allow him to get low and get around opposing tackles cleanly and closely. At the end of the day, I consider him the best overall prospect in this class. Not only does he have an incredibly high ceiling, but his floor is relatively high as well. He can come in and be a contributor from Day 1.

2. Nolan Smith | Georgia | 6‘3”, 235 lbs

2022 stats: GP 8, T 18, TFL 7, S 3, PD 1, FR 1, FF 3.
Wilbar’s Grade: Top 10

Andrew Wilbar: Georgia’s defense was already loaded in 2022, but could you imagine what it would have been with a healthy Nolan Smith? Smith is one of the most athletic pass rushers in this class, and not many tackles have the mobility to mirror him and slow him down coming around the edge. His lack of bulk was overcome by elite quickness at the collegiate level, but if he plans to remain on the outside, he will want to add a few extra pounds to his frame. The only true concern with Smith as a prospect is the injuries, and adding some extra muscle may help. From a technical standpoint, he is developed beyond his years, but he does take poor tackling angles too often. That is a fixable issue, though, and nothing to prevent him from being a top-15 selection in the draft.

3. Will McDonald IV | Iowa State | 6‘4”, 245 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 36, TFL 7.5, S 5, PD 4, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Top 15

Andrew Wilbar: At the beginning of the draft process, I was not a fan of McDonald’s game, but the more I looked into him, the more I realized how poorly he was utilized at Iowa State. Often aligned as a 5-technique along the defensive line, McDonald is a true 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL with incredible pass-rushing upside. McDonald displays good initial quickness out of a stand-up position, and he was more effective both as a run defender and as a pass rusher when utilized in such a role. When he plays with his hand in the dirt, he lacks that initial burst off the snap, which gives him an immediate disadvantage in the battle for leverage. With a non-stop motor and out-of-this-world talent, the sky’s the limit for McDonald, but he must be utilized properly. Team fit will have everything to do with how well he plays early on.

4. Tyree Wilson | Texas Tech | 6‘6”, 275 lbs

2022 stats: GP 10, T 61, TFL 14, S 7, PD 0, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Top 15

Necksnation: A potential top 5 pick, Tyree Wilson has the size, strength, and technique to be an instant impact player at the next level. Wilson is entering the draft coming off of back to back stellar seasons at Texas Tech, with a combined 27.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks over the past two years. Able to play on the interior defensive line or on the edge, Wilson has positional versatility that can make him a matchup nightmare if used properly, but it also creates questions about where he fits best. Personally, I feel like he might play better on the interior, as his speed raises questions about his ability to be an edge rusher. However, he is absolutely capable of playing anywhere on the defensive line, and overall his versatility should be viewed as a positive trait. While he isn’t the most athletic player, he has a large frame and great length, and he should be fairly pro ready. As for when he might be selected, Wilson is emerging as the potential second lineman taken given the legal troubles of Jalen Carter in a very strong DL class. He should be an immediately effective lineman in the NFL, and while his upside is somewhat limited because of his lack of elite speed, he should be a standout player for an NFL team sooner rather than later.

5. Myles Murphy | Clemson | 6‘5”, 275 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 40, TFL 11, S 6.5, PD 2, FR 0, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 1st

John O: Murphy is a stud Edge rusher; it’s that simple. He has the size, bend, and talent to pressure the pocket routinely. Murphy’s wheelhouse is playing right end in a 4-3 defense. He showed on tape repeatedly against quality competition whereas some of his talented Clemson teammates flashed but weren’t consistent. Athletically, Murphy looks talented enough to play an OLB role in a 3-4 also as a pass rusher and run defender. He isn’t a total shutdown run defender, but he has sufficient athleticism to figure it out. Murphy can likely drop in coverage a few yards, although he’s more of a pass rusher by trade. His technique and motor can be debated, but he beats opponents inside, outside, and with a variety of moves. In the modern NFL, this is a player almost any team should want, and he should be drafted in the first round.

6. Lukas Van Ness | Iowa | 6‘5”, 264 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 37, TFL 10.5, S 6, PD 0, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 1st

Adam C: Lined up on the edge and inside as a 3 tech, Van Ness is a scheme-versatile defensive lineman, with great athleticism and a high motor. He has the traits and athleticism that NFL teams covet and has the tools to develop his game. He needs to become a more consistent player to start at the pro level, as he occasionally goes quiet in games, relying on splash plays. In both pass rush and the run game he relies on his strength and power, firing quickly out of his stance. He has the play strength to bull rush, or anchor and two gap in the run game. His long arm rush also generates good pocket push, and his agility is good when chasing down mobile quarterbacks that have escaped the pocket. Van Ness needs to work on his hand placement when rushing and shedding blocks to be more effective at the next level. A greater menu of pass rush moves will also be required if lined up as an edge rusher in the NFL.

7. Derick Hall | Auburn | 6‘3”, 256 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 60, TFL 12, S 7, PD 16 FR 1, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 2nd

Noah_E: Simply put, Derick Hall is a freak. He’s 6’4” and 254 pounds with a wide frame, and his explosiveness is off the charts. He has the strength to go toe-to-toe with offensive linemen, but he can drop into zone coverage when asked. He understands leverage and knows how to use his hands to get the advantage over blockers. Hall has pretty good instincts and locates the ball quickly to make the tackle. He does tend to over-pursue a little and can take himself out of the play. His technique isn’t perfect, but with his elite athleticism, it’s good enough to get by. His potential is honestly through the roof. It’ll be interesting to see how high he goes. I think his best fit is as a 4-3 DE, but he certainly has the capabilities to be an OLB in a 3-4.

8. B.J. Ojulari | LSU | 6‘3”, 244 lbs

2022 stats: GP 11, T 58, TFL 8.5, S 5.5, PD 0, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 2nd

Necksnation: The younger brother of Giants standout Azeez Ojulari, BJ has intriguing upside as a pass rusher and could develop into a similarly skilled player in the NFL. A main concern about Ojulari is his size. At only 6’2” and 248 lbs, Ojulari isn’t necessarily built to overpower anyone at the line of scrimmage. His athleticism, however, is excellent, and allows him to compensate for being undersized. Quick and explosive at the line of scrimmage, Ojulari racked up 16.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss at LSU, and will be on the younger side entering the league at 21 years old. Ojulari still managed to thrive in college despite multiple defensive coordinator and scheme changes, showcasing his natural talent and ultimately his upside as an edge rusher. While he seems more likely to be a high second round pick, Ojulari could sneak into the back of the first round if a team finds itself enamored with his upside and athleticism.

9. Keion White | Georgia Tech | 6‘4”, 267 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 54, TFL 14, S 7.5, PD 1, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 2nd

Necksnation: Keion White is somewhat of a freak of nature. Standing at 6’5” and weighing 285 lbs, he possesses a more than ample frame for an edge rusher, and he knows how to use his size to his advantage. And if that wasn’t enough, he moves very well and can be explosive as a pass rusher. White is relatively new to the position, as he started his college career playing tight end at Old Dominion. He didn’t truly break out until 2022, where he registered 7.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in his second season at Georgia Tech. At 24 years old, White’s age could be a concern for some teams, and his late breakout doesn’t help him either, but he has so much raw potential that it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him taken in the late first round. His ceiling makes him worth the gamble, as he has the physical tools to develop into a top edge rusher in the league if he refines his technique.

10. Adetomiwa Adebawore | Northwestern | 6‘2”, 265 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 38, TFL 9, S 5, PD 1, FR 0, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 2nd

Noah_E: Adebawore is one of the most versatile defenders in the class. He can get after the quarterback as an edge rusher or line up on the inside and still cause havoc. He dominated at the senior bowl and bullied Cody Mauch on multiple occasions. He’s very explosive which he uses to his advantage and blows past interior linemen. Adebawore is also a good run stopper, consistently setting the edge and wrapping up tackles. His bend could use work and he relies a lot on his physical tools, something that won’t always work against NFL level tackles. I think he could thrive in a 4-3 defense due to his ability to lineup anywhere along the defensive line.

11. Byron Young | Tennessee | 6‘3”, 243 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 37, TFL 12, S 7, PD 0, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 2nd

Andrew Wilbar: I highlighted Young in multiple articles during the season, and I do not regret doing so. Week in and week out, Young popped on tape. Displaying great burst off the line of scrimmage, Young knows how to get low and win around the edge with superior bend, giving any lineman with less than elite athleticism a serious disadvantage. The biggest concern I have with him is his lack of functional strength. It did not hinder his production in college, but against bigger, stronger NFL defenders, his lack of strength may be exposed until he can add a little more muscle to his frame.

12. Felix Anudike-Uzomah | Kansas State | 6‘3”, 252 lbs

2022 stats: GP 14, T 46, TFL 11, S 8.5, PD 1, FR 0, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 2nd

John O: Felix is a highly athletic Edge rusher with agility and power. He was voted Big 12 defensive player of the year by the coaches. Felix played both ends in a 3-4 defense where he was double-teamed often on pass plays or had to take on tackles by himself. He did well in those roles. He possesses shiftiness plus enough speed and strength to impact the pocket repeatedly and cause havoc. He also has enough movement to handle outside running plays to his side. He’ll dive to make tackles inside and out. As a rusher, he can bull rush and push bigger OL opponents backward. His drive and grit are apparent. He can stand to learn some improved technique, but he has enough wiggle to get through smaller gaps between linemen or knock opponents off-balance while attacking the edge. Despite being an end in college, he projects favorably to an OLB in a 3-4 as well. You can see enough athleticism for him to handle those duties. However, he rarely dropped into coverage in college so it may be a new skill for him to learn. In general, he is an ascending player with talent who should be taken high in the draft. He should fit well in Pittsburgh if they select him assuming he can transition to OLB. He’s big enough for OLB; his size and strength may be more questionable at DE in a 4-3.

13. Zach Harrison | Ohio State | 6‘6”, 268 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 34, TFL 8, S 3.5, PD 4, FR 0, FF 3.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 3rd

Jeremy: Harrison is an intriguing prospect with size and athleticism, but not the production you’d like to see from a top-tier athlete. What you do see from Harrison is the ability to control blockers at the point of attack with a powerful first step and good hands. Harrison has an NFL caliber bull-rush, and his pass rush plan relies on a fast get-off to out-leverage blockers and beat them to the edge. He struggles when he has to adjust that plan on the fly. Against the run, Harrison is a rock. He can single handedly force opponents to run away from his side of the field. His best fit is as the end on an even front, but overall a solid player with room to grow as a rusher.

14. Andre Carter II | Army | 6‘7”, 265 lbs

20221 stats: GP 10, T 41, TFL 7.5, S 3.5, PD 2, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 3rd

Jeremy: Carter is one of the most difficult evaluations in this EDGE class. An absolute monster physically, his presence alone forced opposing offenses to adjust their protections and run schemes to account for him. Carter is surprisingly bendy for a 6’7” rusher, but he does struggle to gain leverage over opposing blockers. As a result, Carter has to win with quickness and good hands, which he can do. He makes for an imposing run defender as well, although he can get pushed around a little bit by aggressive blockers with a lower base. Some team will fall in love with Carter’s physical attributes, but he’s a raw prospect in need of serious refinement in order to take advantage of his natural athleticism.

15. Isaiah Foskey | Notre Dame | 6‘4”, 257 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 44, TFL 13.5, S 10.5, PD 0, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 3rd

Adam C: The Notre Dame prospect has improved every year of his collegiate career and has the frame and athletic traits to improve even more with the right coaching at the pro level. His best football is likely still ahead of him, making him an exciting developmental prospect for teams. Foskey excels in the run game, with a variety of shedding techniques with effective rips and chops. He sets the edge well and is also a good backside defender closing off runs. He dominated against tight ends in the run game. In pass rush, he makes good use of his athletic ability to be an explosive speed rusher. However, at times he plays too high, too often. He has the school sack record at Notre Dame, and had one of the highest pressure-to-sack conversion rates in the FBS. He doesn’t consistently generate pressure, but when he does, he makes it count.

16. Thomas Incoom | Central Michigan | 6‘4”, 260 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 57, TFL 19, S 11.5, PD 0, FR 2, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 3rd

Andrew Wilbar: If you want a guy who doesn’t mess around with his work, Incoom is who you are looking for. A true breakout player in 2022, Incoom developed into one of the best MAC defenders, recording 19 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. Converting speed to power is his true calling card, although he is capable of winning with finesse as well. Unfortunately, there is a difference between being able to do something and proving it on a consistent basis. Incoom has more twitchiness than people think, but his technique is so poor that his physical abilities do not always shine through against tough competition. I love Incoom’s potential and could see him taken on Day 2, but do not expect much from him in Year 1.

17. Robert Beal, Jr. | Georgia | 6‘4”, 255 lbs

2022 stats: GP 15, T 25, TFL 2.5, S 2.5, PD 0, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 3rd

Jeremy: Beal is an underrated rusher in my opinion, overlooked amidst the all-star prospects in the vaunted Georgia defense. Beal is one of the most athletic stand-up rushers in the class, and he knows how to use that athleticism to affect opposing offenses. What will really intrigue teams is how easily he converts speed to power as a rusher. If he gets underneath the opponent, it’s over. He struggles to set a consistent edge in run defense, but he has the quickness and athleticism to recover quickly and make the tackle. Overall, Beal Jr. has the traits to grow into a fine EDGE defender at the next level.

18. Jose Ramirez | Eastern Michigan | 6‘2”, 251 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 66, TFL 19.5, S 12, PD 2, FR 1, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 3rd

Andrew Wilbar: Ramirez does not possess ideal length for an NFL pass rusher, but ability to disengage from blockers and close quickly on ball-carriers has allowed him to still make an impact as a run defender. He needs to become stronger at the point of attack, however, as he can get overwhelmed by power blockers. If Ramirez wants to carry his collegiate production to the pros, he is going to need to expand his repertoire of pass-rushing moves, as he cannot depend solely on his quickness in the NFL. His in-game awareness, quick feet, and decent bend give him the versatility to play in any scheme, but I believe his lack of strength will be exposed if playing in a 4-3 system. I think he is best as a stand-up outside linebacker in the NFL.

19. Habakkuk Baldonado | Pittsburgh | 6‘5”, 260 lbs

2022 stats: GP 9, T 25, TFL 5, S 2, PD 2, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 3rd

Skyfire322: Baldanado is a smart and athletic player who knows how to play until the end of the whistle. He was a vocal leader while at Pitt and played in a 4-2-5 defense where utilized both a two and three point stance playing on both the left and right sides. While he’s not a world beater, his height, weight, and arm length are things you want in an NFL pass rusher, and his explosiveness helps him get into the backfield. He’s a sure fire tackler and knows how to get the ball carrier down no matter what. However, he can play stiff and has difficulty once the ball carrier is in the second level, particularly when the play is moving away. He also tends to get bullied by bigger linemen, can sometimes show hesitation, and can misjudge the angle or time of attack. Another potential red flag is his injury. He missed most of the 2020 season and was out for another three in 2022 with various leg injuries.

20. KJ Henry | Clemson | 6‘4”, 255 lbs

2022 stats: GP 14, T 51, TFL 9, S 3.5, PD 6, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 4th

Andrew Wilbar: A true leader on the field, Henry is a balanced EDGE defender with ideal length and athleticism. A team captain for the Tigers, Henry knows what it is like to play in big moments and be counted upon to produce. However, he lacks explosiveness at the point of attack, and his hands seriously lack power. He also takes poor tackling angles, which will cap his upside as a run defender if not resolved. Another issue is that he oftentimes plays without control of his arms. Linemen who can get hold of one of his arms can swing him for a loop and push him off his balance rather easily. Ultimately, I believe Henry possesses starting upside, but he has only brushed the surface of his potential. There is still a lot of developing to be done.

21. DJ Johnson | Oregon | 6‘4”, 258 lbs

2022 stats: GP 11, T 39, TFL 8.5, S 6, PD 2, FR 1, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 4th

John O: DJ is a mid-to late round pass rush prospect. He played both sides (left/right) via a two point stance in Oregon’s defense. His primary role was to rush, but he defended the run some, too. DJ relied mainly on power rushes from the outside, and had sufficient burst to the QB. He occasionally did a spin or cut inside. Yet, DJ isn’t a technician, and thus he often got blocked, washed out, or pushed past the QB. In the running game, he provided effort and strength but lacked heightened instincts. He rarely dropped in coverage but seemed athletic enough to do so. DJ definitely has some game, but he’s already 24 and thus it’s unclear how much remaining upside exists. He also may have an off the field issue due to allegedly punching a fan after a game. Overall, DJ may factor into a rotation at OLB for a 3-4 team or play edge in other systems. He’ll likely hang in the NFL for a few years in a diminished role and make occasional plays.

22. Isaiah Land | Florida A&M | 6‘4”, 236 lbs

2022 stats: GP 8, T 23, TFL 11.5, S 7, PD 2, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 4th

Jeremy: An undersized EDGE rusher, Land relies on superior athleticism to overwhelm blockers and harass QBs. He’s even more impressive in back-side pursuit where he can gun down ball-carriers with his elite speed off the edge. Teams will have concerns about his size and ability to be more than a designated rusher on passing downs, which will limit his overall appeal for some franchises.However, Land dominated his collegiate competition, despite playing for a small school, and that type of production will turn heads.

23. Dylan Horton | TCU | 6‘4”, 244 lbs

2022 stats: GP 15, T 51, TFL 15, S 10.5, PD 4, FR 0, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 4th

Necksnation: Dylan Horton has seen his stock rise a bit over the past few months, and it’s easy to see why. Horton is a natural athlete who put up great numbers at TCU in 2022, and he has solid upside at the NFL level. He possesses an average frame, and his bench press at the combine was rather poor (11th percentile), but his athleticism shows up on tape and it could intrigue some teams come April. He does have a good motor, and his 4.55 40 yard dash is indicative of a player worth taking a chance on during Day 3. Horton likely won’t hear his name called any sooner than then, but he’s a solid dart throw for a team that needs depth at edge rusher.

24. Mike Morris | Michigan | 6‘6”, 278 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 23, TFL 11, S 7.5, PD 3, FR 0, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 4th

Andrew Wilbar: Morris is a big edge rusher with the versatility to move inside on obvious passing downs. Perhaps the biggest combine faller, Morris’ athletic testing was awful across the board, and it came rather unexpected, as he was once considered one of the better athletes on the Michigan defense. I realize that tape is the most important thing in evaluating a prospect, but there is not enough consistency from down to down for me to simply overlook his monstrosity of a combine performance. There are several drives in a game where Morris’ motor and power are simply too much for defenders to handle, but there are other times where he is a little sluggish off the snap and struggles to disengage from blockers. I still believe in the long-term potential of Morris, but he is too big a risk to be selected within the top 100 picks.

25. Andre Jones | Louisiana | 6‘5”, 244 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 51, TFL 8.5, S 7.5, PD 1, FR 0, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 4th

Andrew Wilbar: Jones is a versatile linebacker whose best fit in the NFL is as an EDGE rusher. Possessing a relatively balanced skill set, Jones uses his length to his advantage when it comes to gaining leverage on opponents, and he possesses a surprising bit of power for someone listed at under 250 pounds. The downside is that he is still learning how to play on the edge. He plays too high and lacks bend around the edge, and he is a little stiff in the hips when asked to drop into coverage. There may be teams who view him as a capable inside linebacker at the next level, but the team that drafts him will need to know in advance how they plan to use him. Jones needs to be under a coach with a clear vision and direction if he is going to develop into a starting-caliber player.

26. YaYa Diaby | Louisville | 6‘4”, 255 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 37, TFL 14, S 9, PD 2, FR 2, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 4th

Jeremy: Diaby is one of my favorite rushers in this draft. His college production is fantastic, but it’s his unnatural athleticism that just pops off the screen. He profiles as a stand-up rusher in an odd-front scheme, where he can maximize his speed and quick get-off before making initial contact with a blocker. From there, Diaby unleashes a surprisingly deep repertoire of pass rush moves, including a deadly spin move. He showed impressive penetration and finish in run defense as well. Diaby could be a Day 3 steal for the team who takes a flier on his incredible athleticism and college production.

27. Ali Gaye | LSU | 6‘6”, 250 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 36, TFL 6, S 2.5, PD 2, FR 0, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 5th

Adam C: Gaye has ideal size and weight to be a 4-3 defensive end at the NFL level, but despite his physical tools failed to be consistently productive at LSU. In the run game he played well, with good initial quickness and gap penetration, whilst also able to work off blocks well to make the tackle. He struggled with runs directed towards him, unable to hold up against double teams, and kicked out easily, he struggles to disrupt in the run game consistently. In pass rush he plays with good speed and uses his hands well. However, Gaye struggles to convert speed to power when rushing. If he doesn’t win early, he struggles to get pressure on the QB. He also plays with a higher center of gravity allowing powerful tackles to dominate.

28. Viliami Fehoko | San Jose State | 6‘4”, 263 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 69, TFL 19, S 9, PD 1, FR 1, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 5th

Adam C: Fehoko was a very productive edge rusher for San Jose State, but there are question marks about his ability to continue that production against a higher level of competition in the NFL. Somewhere in between a 4-3 Edge and a 3-4 DE, his game projects better as a 4/5 tech, so is likely to lose a bit of weight before entering the league. He’s quick off the snap and rushes the edge with good speed and bend, with solid counter and spin moves if he doesn’t win with speed. In the run game, Fehoko is strong at the point of attack, sheds blocks well and regularly gets tackles in the backfield. He does get sealed on the backside too easily, and sometimes struggles against more powerful tackles. He has shown good fundamentals, but is yet to come up against NFL caliber tackles.

29. Tavius Robinson | Ole Miss | 6‘7”, 245 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 43, TFL 7, S 6, PD 1, FR 2, FF 4.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 5th

Andrew Wilbar: Robinson is a powerful defensive end with sufficient closing speed and a decent get-off. His outstanding length combined with strong hands allow him to disengage from defenders practically at will. Unfortunately, there are a lot of aspects of his game that keep him from being an NFL-ready prospect. First and foremost, he does not have exceptional speed as it pertains to closing on opposing ball-carriers. He also struggles to maintain a steady pad level, which, if not fixed, may be a more prevalent issue in the NFL than it was in college.

30. Durrell Johnson | Liberty | 6’5”, 251 lbs

2022 Stats:
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 5th

Andrew Wilbar: Johnson is a strong athlete with outstanding length to man the edge. Despite a longer frame, Johnson does a relatively good job keeping the pads low and setting the edge in the run game. He is a very aggressive player, though, always going for the big play. When he is able to disengage from a block, he is quick to get upfield and make a play in the backfield. If you need any proof of that, simply look at his 2022 stats that include 9 sacks and an uncanny 27 tackles for loss. Stiffness in his lower half prevents him from unleashing his full potential as a pass-rusher, but there is definitely something to work with here.

31. Isaiah McGuire | Missouri | 6‘4”, 266 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 40, TFL 14, S 8.5, PD 0, FR 0, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 5th

Skyfire322: While his 40 was less than desirable, Isaiah McGuire is a speedy, physical bullrush specialist with an instinct to get in the backfield. His hand and foot technique helps get past linemen, and he has a high motor that helps penetrate the line. However, he can be a bit too excitable and will overcommit. He does play stiff and has difficulty cutting, which often leads to loss of leverage. He does have the skill to play in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes, and with the right coaching, he could be a potential mid-round steal.

32. Nick Hampton | Appalachian State | 6‘3”, 235 lbs

2022 stats: GP , T , TFL , S , PD , FR , FF .
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 5th

Ryland B.: Hampton is a fast and ferocious pass-rusher. His acceleration off the snap and motor are unmatched. He was certainly a fun prospect to watch on tape. He’ s a little technically unrefined, but overall his footwork and hand usage are quick and snappy, much like his overall game. The biggest concern lies in Hampton’s size, which isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely below pro EDGE standards. At 235 pounds, Hampton noticeably lacks some power and punch. He’s still an intriguing prospect, not just because of his athleticism, but also because of his impressive production at Appalachian State. Hampton’s size may cap his potential, but he could still be a valuable pickup for a team in need of some 3-4 OLB depth.

33. Nick Herbig | Wisconsin | 6‘3”, 225 lbs

2022 stats: GP 9, T 39, TFL 9.5, S 7, PD 1, FR 2, FF 3.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 5th

Adam C: The younger brother of Steelers guard Nate, Nick Herbig projects as a 3-4 OLB. Herbig really specializes in pass rushing, with 11 sacks in his latest season at Wisconsin to show for it. He regularly pressures the quarterback and makes plays, even against some of the top offenses and offensive lines in college football. As a run defender, he sets the edge well, and plays with a high motor, chasing plays down and is a secure tackler. He could do with adding weight to become an effective run defender at the pro level. Herbig was rarely asked to drop into pass coverage, and when he did was inconsistent. He plays with good speed and reads the quarterback well in zone coverage, but also lacks awareness. His weight is a major issue, but if he can increase it, there’s a lot to like, and he can be an impact starter at the next level.

34. Brenton Cox, Jr. | Florida | 6‘4”, 253 lbs

2022 stats: GP 8, T 35, TFL 8, S 2, PD 1, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 5th

Andrew Wilbar: Despite a disappointing combine performance, Cox is a gifted athlete with incredible talent. Displaying great hand usage and functional strength on the edge, Cox has always had a natural feel for getting after the quarterback and creating pressure. What kills his stock is a long list of off-the-field issues. Incidents that involved either possession of marijuana or altercations with both players and coaches, whether verbal or physical, may be enough to send him to undrafted free agency. If he can get his head screwed on right, he brings upside as a rotational pass rusher in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, but that is a big if at this point.

35. Lonnie Phelps | Kansas | 6‘3”, 244 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 57, TFL 11.5, S 7, PD 1, FR 0, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 5th

Ryland B.: I wasn’t overly impressed with Phelps’ game, but there definitely were some positives. He has a fast first step and is a great accelerator, but his lack of size, strength, and length prevent him from being a truly impactful pass-rusher. Once good OTs get their hands on Phelps, he’s too easily washed outside and taken out of the play. That being said, Phelps has a good motor and football IQ, and it shows up in his pursuit and general effort. There’s definitely aspects to like, but to me Phelps is a developmental UDFA/late round prospect in this year’s draft.


36. Ikenna Enechukwu | Rice | 6‘3”, 256 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 37, TFL 9.5, S 4.5, PD 0, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

37. BJ Thompson | Stephen F. Austin | 6’6”, 243 lbs

2022 Stats:
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

38. Truman Jones | Harvard | 6’3”, 250 lbs

2022 Stats:
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

39. Tyrus Wheat | Mississippi State | 6‘2”, 265 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 53, TFL 10.5, S 6, PD 2, FR 2, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

40. Ochaun Mathis | Nebraska | 6‘5”, 247 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 48, TFL 5, S 3.5, PD 2, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

41. Caleb Murphy | Ferris State | 6‘4”, 245 lbs

2022 stats: GP 15, T 93, TFL 39, S 25.5, PD 0, FR 0, FF 3.
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

42. Nate Givhan | Toledo | 6’1”, 245 lbs

2022 Stats:
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

43. Derek Parrish | Houston | 6’0”, 241 lbs

2022 Stats:
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

44. Amir Siddiq | Charlotte | 6’2”, 245 lbs

2022 Stats:
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

45. Thomas Rush | Minnesota | 6’3”, 251 lbs

2022 Stats:
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

46. Jalen Harris | Arizona | 6’4”, 257 lbs

2022 Stats:
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

What are your thoughts on these EDGE rusher prospects? Do any of them make sense for the Steelers? Let us know your thoughts on these prospects in the comment section below!