Loaded with talent, the SEC EDGE rankings are explosive, athletic, and downright elite. Here’s how they stack up.
2023 SEC EDGE Rankings
Unlike our previous rankings on offense (QB and RB), the 2023 SEC EDGE rankings aim to shed light on individuals rather than units.
The 2023 SEC EDGE rankings portray a list of the best edge defenders we project to see on the field based on what they’ve shown in their collegiate careers to date. Some players are expected to break out, but this list aims to highlight the known commodities at this stage of the offseason.
EDGE defender play comprises far more than statistics, and the more a defensive frontman has shown over his time on the field, the higher they’ll rank here.
1) Dallas Turner, Alabama
There is no denying the level of talent Dallas Turner possesses. You simply have to cut on the film for a single defensive possession for Alabama and you’ll see it firsthand.
Turner has been ripping through offensive linemen and imposing his will on quarterbacks for years now, especially dating back to his high school days at Thomas Aquinas. The former five-star player helped pave the way to back-to-back Florida State Championships and his winning pedigree followed him to the Crimson Tide.
At 6’4″ and 242 pounds, Turner possesses an elite frame with matching skills. He’s fast off the ball, faster with his hands, and has a planned pass-rush attack on every rep. Turner has elite instincts and always has a knack for finding the football.
If he can’t get to the quarterback, he understands how to disrupt passing lanes all the same. Big or small, strong or fast, the type of linemen in front of him doesn’t matter as he possesses all the requisite skills to defeat any blocker.
MORE: SEC QB Rankings, 2023
2) Mykel Williams, Georgia
Named the Maxwell Football Club’s National High School Defensive Player of the Year during his senior year at Hardaway High School, Mykel Williams was firmly placed on every team’s radar. Ultimately, he chose Georgia and shattered his lofty expectations in Year 1 with the Bulldogs.
Williams stands 6’5″ and tips the scales at 265 pounds. Yet, he’s an incredibly athletic and nimble pass rusher. He has an elite first step off the line of scrimmage and may be the fastest for his size in terms of pass rushers in these rankings to get to the quarterback.
He’ll line up in a number of different positions on the Georgia front and has already drawn comparisons to former No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker. He recorded 4.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss last season in a year that felt like we’ve really just scratched the surface of his overall ability.
3) John Morgan III, Arkansas
Transferring into the SEC from Pittsburgh, John Morgan III pairs with a fellow transfer at Arkansas to form arguably the best EDGE duo in the conference. Morgan offers up terrific play strength and a documented ability to take games over from his five seasons at Pitt.
When it boils down to it, Morgan can take over games from the outside and forced his fair share of bad decisions from opposing quarterbacks.
In five seasons with Pitt, Morgan recorded 14 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and broke up two more passes at the line of scrimmage. He has great length and even better balance at the point of contact.
4) Tyler Baron, Tennessee
It really doesn’t matter where Tyler Baron lines up on the Tennessee defensive front, he simply wins. With 7.5 career sacks to his name, Baron is still an ascending player for the Volunteers.
But just ask the Missouri offensive line how disruptive he can be when he’s at his best. Baron has immense strength and a full arsenal of pass-rush moves at his disposal. He also fits well in run defense, arguably his best attribute, as he plugs gaps off the edge, working from the outside in.
5) Princely Umanmielen, Florida
If you don’t already know the name, get familiar with Princely Umanmielen in Gainesville. The big man off the edge stands 6’5″ and 245 pounds, playing with ridiculous power and length.
Umanmielen rips down offensive linemen or runs around them all the same. He flashes fast hands at the point of attack or will slow play linemen, yet always seems to get his hands on his blocker first.
When it boils down to it, Umanmielen is a true three-down edge presence with the best of his game yet to come.
6) Jordan Strachan, South Carolina
His best play may be a bit behind him, but if Jordan Strachan can rekindle that level of play he flashed in his final season at Georgia State back in 2020, the South Carolina Gamecocks have themselves a good one. Strachan was limited to just two appearances last season and played in spot duty the year prior.
However, at his best, the 6’5″, 245-pound off-ball linebacker is a terror to opposing quarterbacks. He has terrific length and Strachan is a force with his instincts. Strachan can bend the edge well and uses his leverage to get past tackles, building speed as he rounds the corner.
In a featured role and healthy for the 2023 season, Strachan can put his name back into the upper echelon of the SEC’s edge defenders.
7) Cedric Johnson, Ole Miss
Living up to his status as a certified Freak, it was no wonder why Cedric Johnson made Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List in 2022. His athleticism pops off the tape and his mix of strength, speed, and fellow athletic traits are no match for unwitting offensive linemen.
Johnson feasts when he can pin his ears back and take on tackles on the outside. He’s recorded a total of 10.5 sacks the past two seasons and has 15.5 career tackles for loss.
At 6’3″, 265 pounds and his athletic profile, Johnson has already made a name for himself in the SEC and nationally.
8) J.J. Weaver, Kentucky
Mr. Reliable for the Kentucky Wildcats’ defense, J.J. Weaver seemingly always left his mark on their defensive efforts over the past three seasons. He’s recorded 9.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss in that span, showcasing how versatile and talented he is in all facets.
Weaver stands 6’5″ and 244 pounds, playing the outside linebacker position with precision, poise, and power. He’s asked to do a lot in the Kentucky defense and has proven time and time again that he can be counted on in big situations.
Given his two career interceptions, several other pass deflections at the line of scrimmage, and his general influencing of the opposing run game, Weaver is far more than just a dominant pass rusher, he’s a true disruptor.
9) Trajan Jeffcoat, Arkansas
Forming a ridiculously-talented edge rushing unit with the Razorbacks, Trajan Jeffcoat heads to Fayetteville after five years at Missouri. Jeffcoat has 11.5 career sacks and another 19 total tackles for loss from his time with the Tigers.
At Arkansas, Jeffcoat’s ridiculous size off the edge will pair nicely with the incoming pieces to form arguably the top pass-rushing unit in the SEC and maybe in the country. Jeffcoat stands 6’4″ and nearly 270 pounds but never played with a sluggish speed or lacked any athleticism in his game.
10) Ovie Oghoufo, LSU
Finally, Ovie Oghoufo has come to … Baton Rouge. Oghoufo transfers to LSU after two years at Notre Dame and two more at Texas. The former Longhorn had a breakout season in 2022, recording 54 total tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss.
He’s a menace off the edge with his size and has a plethora of experience at some of the highest levels. Oghoufo bounced around the lineup at Texas last season and has versatility to his game as well.
11) Sai’vion Jones, LSU
They don’t make players with much more upside than Sai’vion Jones. Standing a menacing 6’6″ and 268 pounds, Jones is a man among boys when he lines up off the edge for the Tigers.
He’ll beat tackles with his first step or simply outpace them with his length, and that’s if he doesn’t just defeat linemen with his brute strength at the point of contact.
Expected in a feature role opposite Oghoufo, we likely see Jones rise up these rankings as soon as the season starts. Considering he’ll likely line up with his hand in the dirt and all across the defensive front in 2023, the sky is the limit for Jones.
MORE: SEC RB Rankings, 2023
12) Jared Ivey, Ole Miss
What a season it was for the Georgia Tech transfer in 2022 as Jared Ivey blew up for Ole Miss a season ago. His highlight reel is full of terrific moments, none more so than the game-winning sack against Kentucky.
At 6’5″ and 265 pounds, Ivey is too big for most tackles to handle, yet plays a fast and nimble game on the outside that even the bigger tackles can’t keep up with.
13) Zach Williams, Arkansas
A veteran for the Razorbacks, Zach Williams enters his fifth year with the program this fall. Williams has a great blend of size and strength with great athleticism.
He has a nose for the ball and set career-high figures in every major defensive category last season. Williams may be a complementary piece to the transfer portal additions on his own defensive line, but that isn’t indicative of his talent.
14) Shemar Stewart, Texas A&M
With a lofty recruiting profile following him to Texas A&M, Shemar Stewart started six games during his true freshman season and did not disappoint. Factoring into the lineup early on, Stewart flashed his talent multiple times last year.
He was on the field plenty, lining up from almost everywhere on the Aggies’ defensive front and getting home with over a dozen pressures altogether. We’re expecting big things as he continues to hone his craft with the elite skill set he possesses.
15) Chris Braswell, Alabama
Another in the long line of Crimson Tide edge rushers, you can safely expect a breakout year for Chris Braswell in 2023. And that’s even more so than he broke out a year ago.
A former top-ranked high school edge recruit, Braswell recorded career-high figures in every category and did so without starting a game. In what is expected to be a feature role this fall, Braswell’s production and place among the SEC EDGE defenders will certainly be on the rise.
16) Fadil Diggs, Texas A&M
There is much to like about this Texas A&M defense, specifically their defensive front. While we’re not here discussing interior defensive linemen — that of which the Aggies have a plethora of as well — we’re here to place their trio of pass rushers of the edge.
That list continues with Fadil Diggs, a team captain last season and a consistent presence off the edge. Despite just eight appearances last season, he recorded five tackles for loss and three sacks. He forced three fumbles and was a thorn in the side of any blocker who tried to attach themselves to him.
17) Joe Moore, Missouri
Joe Moore transfers in to fill a big-time need for the Missouri Tigers. After losing Jeffcoat in the portal, Moore slides into the starting role on the Tigers’ defensive line, likely featuring heavily on the outside.
At 6’3″ and 245, Moore played slightly out of position for Arizona State the past three seasons. Still, he was incredibly productive when he was on the field and presents a potential three-down star-in-the-making for the Tigers.
18) LT Overton, Texas A&M
It’s never a matter of whether LT Overton is going to get home with pressure; it’s just how often. The big man plays a unique role for Texas A&M, rushing off the edge or inside and even from a linebacker position as he did down the stretch of the season.
Overton has massive upside, about as massive as his frame is. And at 6’5″, 270 pounds, that’s a huge. With a lot of mouths to feed on the Aggies’ defensive front, expect Overton to continue to play a hybrid role in their defense to see the field.
19) Roman Harrison, Tennessee
A versatile edge defender, Roman Harrison plays a unique brand of defense. Harrison can stick with receivers in the flats or he’ll rush the passer of the edge, picking and choosing his spots with great accuracy.
He’s a gifted athlete and should see the field more during the 2023 season. That spells trouble for opposing offensive linemen who can’t seem to figure out what skill he’ll utilize when he rushes the passer.
MORE: SEC WR Rankings, 2023
20) Justus Boone, Florida
There’s a lot to like about Justus Boone’s game for the Gators. Cracking the lineup more as the season went along, Boone plays a great complimentary game opposite Umanmielen.
Boone stands 6’4″ and has added weight to his frame this season. Ideally, that weight is muscle, and he can continue to bully his way past tackles. Boone’s pass rush moves are ascending and this is likely the lowest we see him on these rankings by the season’s end.
- Darren Agu, Vanderbilt
- Nate Clifton, Vanderbilt
- Terrell Dawkins, South Carolina
- Jordan Davis, Mississippi State
- Landon Jackson, Arkansas
- Marvin Jones Jr., Georgia
- Austin Lewis, Tennessee
- Elijah McAllister, Auburn
- Octavious Oxendine, Kentucky
- Bradyn Swinson, LSU
- Bryan Thomas Jr., South Carolina
- Johnny Walker Jr., Missouri