Select Page

Save on our NFL Bundle, now available!

Dominate Your Leagues!

Our Draft Kit Pro includes all the content you need to dominate your draft, best ball, dynasty, and more.

Rankings for every format, access to our subscriber-only Discord, strategy articles, and much more — find it all within our Draft Kit Pro.


I’ve been studying NFL football and specifically line play for the last seven years. And there hasn’t been a more talent-rich, deeper position group than the defensive line. The biggest, fastest athletes on the field naturally gravitate towards the defensive side of the ball early in their lives and it bleeds into the college and pro levels. Combined with as nuanced and refined of an approach as ever before relative to the technical development of the position, specifically pass-rush tactics, it has resulted in pass protection being the most difficult (and arguably valuable) job in the NFL outside of playing quarterback.

These rankings will be useful in many ways. The most important component of picking a fantasy D/ST is their ability to put pressure on the quarterback. Start/sit decisions at quarterback and DFS projections should always include the opposing pass rush. In betting markets, line play is far more meaningful than the public believes.

My criteria for ordering all 32 pass-rushing DLs is predominantly based on film study, which included watching every game of the 2022 season at least once, focused strictly on the trenches. My process for evaluation is rooted in trait-based evaluations that assess skill sets, physical tools/traits, level of competition, production, and coaching. Combined with a preexisting knowledge of the majority of pass rushers from previous seasons of film study, personal insights from many of the players themselves, and dissecting some advanced metrics, this list was born and will be updated each week during the regular season.

For my 2023 offensive line rankings, click here.


Most teams have one defensive tackle that comes off of the field and/or an edge rusher that kicks inside on obvious passing downs, so these lineups factor that in and represent the best rushers listed at each position who will most likely be on the field in obvious passing situations.


Tier 1: Elite Pass-Rushing Defensive Lines


1. Cowboys

Edge – DeMarcus Lawrence
IDL – Dorance Armstrong Jr.
IDL – Osa Odighizuwa/Mazi Smith
Edge – Micah Parsons

Dallas has an elite two-headed monster in Micah Parsons (first in True Pressure Rate) and DeMarcus Lawrence paired with a deep collection of talent around them including a trio of capable and/or ascending interior rushers in Dorance Armstrong Jr., Osa Odighizuwa, and 2023 first-round pick Mazi Smith who all operate inside an opportunistic scheme led by defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

With Quinn turning the dials, the Cowboys are able to regularly pinpoint and exploit mismatches with Parsons commanding extra attention on every snap, freeing up others. The front office fortified the interior of their defensive line with first-round pick Smith to provide additional push up the middle with last year’s second-round pick Sam Williams offering big-time upside in the rotation off of the edge. Armstrong Jr. (24th in True Sack Rate) is the most underrated member of the unit, offering a mismatch on the outside against tackles using plus length and power to compress the pocket with enough wiggle to win quickly reduced inside of guards.


2. 49ers

Edge – Nick Bosa
IDL – Javon Hargrave
IDL – Arik Armstead
Edge – Drake Jackson

The 49ers are returning arguably the game’s most impactful defensive line coach, Kris Kocurek, to lead another dynamic pool of talent up front. San Francisco is heavily invested in their defensive front and it shows in talent led by superstar Nick Bosa and two outstanding complements in Arik Armstead and free-agent signing Javon Hargrave. With a three-headed monster leading the way, the team is counting on last year’s second-round selection, Drake Jackson, to make a jump into a full-time role.

The unit is also well-positioned to allow Jackson to gradually morph into that role with Kocurek favorite Kerry Hyder rejoining the rotation, Clelin Ferrell as Kocurek’s latest reclamation project, plus Javon Kinlaw’s tantalizing upside waiting to be realized if he can stay healthy.


3. Steelers

Edge – T.J. Watt
IDL – Larry Ogunjobi/Keanu Benton
IDL – Cameron Heyward
Edge – Alex Highsmith

Pittsburgh will remain in the top tier for the foreseeable future thanks to Cameron Heyward defying time and still dominating at 34 years old while T.J. Watt rejoins the lineup after suffering a season-ending pectoral tear in last year’s opener against the Bengals. Rounding out the unit’s trio is Alex Highsmith, a potent cog in the machine with plus burst, a relentless motor, and a series of signature moves, including a deadly ghost technique and inside spin that he used to finish third overall in True Sack Rate last year.

After those three, the team is rounded out by a solid interior splash presence in Larry Ogunjobi, 2023 second-round pick Keanu Benton, and a high-end rotational set of edge rushers in Markus Golden and 2023 fourth-round pick Nick Herbig, forming a high-floor/high-ceiling seven-man rotation.

We've created the best Draft Kit on the internet.

Our fantasy football Draft Kit was created to prepare you with the highest-quality resources to help you win your league.

Our team of analysts, led by Evan Silva and Adam Levitan, create unmatched content and rankings to make sure you’re ready for draft day. While our Draft Kit is built for competitive fantasy players, we’ve made it fun and easy to consume.

If you aren’t satisfied with our Draft Kit for any reason, just email us within 48 hours of purchase and we’ll provide a full refund.

Full Draft Kit Overview » Already a subscriber? Log In