The college football season is approaching. There is always debate over ranking the best players in the sport. Here are the top 25 college football edge rushers heading into the 2022 season.
Note: While projection of what a player can be is taken into account, most rankings are from what has been seen on the field so far. These are not NFL Draft rankings, but rather focus on the best players in college football.
25. Rondell Bothroyd, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Bothroyd had a breakout season in 2021 with 16.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. If Wake Forest is going to compete in the ACC again, Bothroyd needs to put up similar numbers.
24. Gabriel Murphy, UCLA Bruins
Murphy is one of two transferring from North Texas to UCLA. He had 7.5 sacks and will likely step into the starting lineup for the Bruins as they try to do better than their eight wins from last season.
23. Ali Gaye, LSU Tigers
In just four games during the 2021 season, Gaye put up 2.5 sacks. He needs to stay on the field because he was at a really good pace if he stayed healthy.
22. Brock Martin, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Martin had nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss last season. He is a part of a good Oklahoma State pass rush heading into the 2022 season and they could help the team win the Big 12 Championship.
21. Xavier Thomas, Clemson Tigers
In 2021, Thomas had 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. With so many good players on the Clemson defensive line, Thomas is going to have his fair share of good matchups to exploit.
20. Zach Harrison, Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes have been waiting for Harrison to break out and it hasn’t happened through three seasons. In his career, he has 7.5 sacks. It is now or never for Harrison, as Ohio State has plenty of talented young players behind him.
19. Grayson Murphy, UCLA Bruins
Murphy transferred from North Texas with his brother. He was a successful member of the Mean Green with 8.5 sacks in 2021. In 2022, he should slide right into the starting lineup.
18. Ron Stone Jr., Washington State Cougars
Stone Jr. had five sacks for Washington State last season. The more impressive thing is that he had 11.5 tackles for loss. Washington State is not known for their defense, but they have a good one in Stone.
17. BJ Ojulari, LSU Tigers
Fans may remember Ojulari’s older brother Azeez from Georgia. B.J. has had a solid start to his career as well and had seven sacks in 2021. LSU will have solid edge rushers for 2022 and Ojulari will lead the way.
16. Yasir Abdullah, Louisville Cardinals
Louisville has a great edge rusher in Abdullah, who racked up 16.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2021. With a tougher schedule, Abdullah will need to help the defense play well to make a bowl game in 2022.
15. Brenton Cox, Florida Gators
Cox started his career at Georgia before transferring to play for one of their rivals, Florida. He had 14.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks last season. Florida has a lot of question marks heading into the 2022 season, but Cox’s production should have fans excited.
14. Collin Oliver, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State’s defense was great under Jim Knowles last season and Oliver had a big freshman season. He had 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss and is a leader on the defense now. Knowles is gone, but Oliver can still improve.
13. Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Stewart had 16 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in 2021 for the Chanticleers. It was an amazing freshman season for Stewart, as he cemented himself as one of the best players in the Sun Belt.
12. Habakkuk Baldonado, Pittsburgh Panthers
While the offense gets a lot of the credit for Pitt’s big season in 2021, Baldonado also had a great year. He had 12 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Some of the offensive pieces are gone, which means more of the onus to perform falls on Baldonado and the Panthers.
11. Dallas Turner, Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama has two great edge rushers and Turner had an excellent freshman season. He had 8.5 sacks and has a great start to his college career. If he improves as much as many expect, double-digit sacks are coming for Turner in 2022.
10. Derick Hall, Auburn Tigers
In 2021, Hall had nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss as Auburn made a bowl game. They will have a tough road to make a bowl game this season, but Hall’s play likely won’t be the reason if the team doesn’t play well this season.
9. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State Cyclones
McDonald has two straight seasons of at least 10 sacks for the Cyclones. With a big season, there is a chance that McDonald reaches Jaylon Ferguson‘s all-time sack record for college football with 45. He will be the best player on the field for the Cyclones in 2022.
8. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State has an edge rusher that picks up sacks in bunches. Anudike-Uzomah had 11 sacks in total during the 2021 season, with three coming against Southern Illinois and four coming against TCU. He’ll need to be more consistent on a game-to-game basis in 2022, as he had six games without a sack in 2021.
7. Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Foskey has continually improved his game since he has been at Notre Dame. After registering 4.5 sacks in 2020, he upped his game to get 10 sacks in 2021. Notre Dame has a tough schedule this season, so Foskey will be put to the test.
6. Nick Herbig, Wisconsin Badgers
Last season, Herbig had 14.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks for the Badgers. It was a breakout year for Herbig and now he will be a key component on a Wisconsin team with a legitimate shot to make the Big Ten Championship Game.
5. Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Washington Huskies
Tupuola-Fetui only played in two games last season before missing the rest of the season due to injury. He had seven sacks in 2020 in just three games played. If Tupuola-Fetui comes back healthy this season, he will be one of the best pass rushers in college football.
4. Nolan Smith, Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia had a great defense in 2021 and Smith had 4.5 sacks. The physical gifts that Smith has are apparent and now he is going to be tasked with leading the defense. He is a projected early pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
3. Andre Carter II, Army Black Knights
It’s not often that a service academy player ends up this high on these lists, but Carter is a productive college player and NFL Draft prospect. He had 17 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks in 2021. At 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, he uses his body well. Carter is the best player Army has had in recent memory.
2. Myles Murphy, Clemson Tigers
In 10 games played during the 2021 season, Murphy had 14.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Clemson’s defensive line is oozing with talent and Murphy takes advantage of that, as it is hard to pick out who to double team. The offense for Clemson has a lot of things to figure out, so Murphy will need to play great in 2022.
1. Will Anderson, Alabama Crimson Tide
Anderson is the best player in college football heading into the 2022 season and is likely going to be the best prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. He had 17.5 sacks last season as Alabama made a run to the National Championship. Anderson can’t be blocked by just one person consistently.
Other Notable Edge Rushers
Durell Nchami, Maryland Terrapins- Nchami has had trouble staying healthy, playing in just seven games over the last three seasons. In 2021, he had three sacks in just four games played. If he is on the field, he creates an impact.
Garrett Nelson, Nebraska Cornhuskers- Nelson has improved every season for the Cornhuskers and now will be a part of a good pass-rushing tandem. With five sacks last season, more is expected in 2022.
Van Fillinger, Utah Utes- Fillinger was a part of the team that made the Rose Bowl with 5.5 sacks. Utah is expected to compete for the Pac-12 again in 2022.
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