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Jets 2021 free agency: Ranking the edge rushers from best to worst

Shaquil Barrett
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Ranking 47 impending free agent edge rushers from best to worst, based on an accumulation of their 2020 statistics.

Using an agglomeration of four different key statistics, I ranked the 47 impending free agent edge rushers that played at least 200 defensive snaps in 2020. This is the second in a series of articles that will rank all of the qualified free agents at key positions of need for the New York Jets. Yesterday, I stacked up 47 free agent wide receivers.

The players were ranked according to their average percentile ranking among 124 qualified edge defenders in these four statistics:

Pro Football Focus pass rush grade: PFF’s all-encompassing evaluation of a player’s performance as a pass rusher based on the grading of every pass-rush snap. This stat does a nice job of crediting players who record a high number of legitimately impressive one-on-one victories while discrediting players who rack up easy production. For players to grade well, they need to create their own production by defeating blockers early in reps. Players will not get much credit for pressures (sacks, hits, or hurries) that are either unblocked, created by the coverage, or dropped into their lap thanks to the pressure of another teammate.

Pressure percentage: The percentage of a player’s pass-rush snaps in which they were credited with a pressure (sack, hit, or hurry).

Pro Football Focus run defense grade: PFF’s all-encompassing evaluation of a player’s performance as a run defender based on the grading of every snap against the run. The run defense grade captures the bulk of a player’s off-the-stat-sheet impact against the run. Regardless of how many tackles they make, players can grade out well by consistently filling their gaps well and creating strong penetration to shut down running lanes and set up opportunities for teammates. Players can grade poorly by failing to create quality penetration, struggling to fill their assigned gaps, and being sealed out of plays to allow big gains.

Run stop percentage: The percentage of a player’s snaps against the run in which they recorded a run stop, which is considered a tackle in the run game that constitutes a less-than-ideal result for the offense.

Overall score: Using each player’s results in the four categories above, an overall score is concocted to rank the group. The two pass rush statistics are combined to create a pass rush score, and vice versa for the run game. Then, the two scores are combined to create an overall score. Since passing plays made up about 60% of offensive plays league-wide in 2020 (60.7% when accounting for QB scrambles), the overall score is weighted to favor the player’s pass rush score. To calculate the overall score, 60% of a player’s pass rush score was combined with 40% of a player’s run defense score.

The chart showcases some other crucial information, including the player’s free agency type, exact age to the decimal point on Sept. 1, their average number of defensive snaps per game, and their average number of pressures per game.

In addition, there are two metrics listed to showcase each player’s usage. “Hand in the dirt percentage” refers to the percentage of a player’s snaps in which they lined up at defensive end or defensive tackle. This helps to differentiate the typically larger 5-technique defensive ends from the typically smaller stand-up outside linebackers. “Left side percentage” refers to the percentage of a player’s snaps in which they lined up on the defense’s left side, showcasing which side of the field their team preferred to use them on.

Here it is: 47 of the top 2021 free agent edge rushers, ranked from best to worst:

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