Next Gen Stats and Amazon Web Services recently unveiled a new series of advanced pressure metrics that combine real-time player tracking data and state-of-the-art AI called Pressure Probability.
For this week's installment of Position Power Rankings, we turn our focus to the league's top pass rushers, ranked by a composite score powered by Next Gen Stats' new Pressure Probability Model. In total, more than 13 different stats can be derived from an individual pass rusher's pressure probability estimates.
The composite scores listed next to each player below measure how that player performs relative to his peers. For example, the top player on the list, Cowboys edge defender Micah Parsons, earned a composite score of 99. In other words, his performance placed him in the 99th percentile of pass rushers. The formula used to derive the composite scores includes data from the start of the 2022 season to better account for the small sample size from this season. As a result, a few notable pass rushers who missed significant time due to injury during the 2022 campaign -- such as NFL co-sack leader T.J. Watt -- are not featured below.
PASS RUSH SCORE: 99
Initially drafted as an off-ball linebacker, Parsons flashed game-breaking ability as a pass rusher during his 2021 rookie campaign. It wasn’t until his second season where Parsons transitioned into a full-time edge rusher in Dan Quinn’s attacking defense. Since then, no player has been more effective getting after the quarterback, both from a volume and per-snap basis. Parsons is the only defender to accumulate triple-digit pressures (103) over the last two seasons, generating double-digit pressures in three games since 2022 -- no other defender has done so in more than one game. Parsons has also averaged an insane 19.7 percent pressure rate in that span, while no other player with a minimum of 300 pass rushes eclipses 18 percent.
The scariest thing for opposing quarterbacks? The third-year pro is getting even better. By almost every new metric available in our new pass rushing toolbox, Parsons ranks first through two games this season. He leads the NFL in quick pressures (eight), positive rushes (42) and average peak pressure probability (51.1%), and he’s forced two turnovers from pressure, extending his lead (11) since 2021.
PASS RUSH SCORE: 97
The reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year went on a tear after San Francisco’s bye week last season, leading all NFL players in pressures (50) from Week 10 through Week 18. His production in that span is consistent with his performance since entering the NFL in 2019. The younger Bosa brother boasts the league’s third-highest average pressure probability -- a pass rusher’s average pressure probability over the course of a pass dropback -- since 2019 at 19.7 percent.
The 49ers star became the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history just before the start of the regular season, earning a five-year, $170 million extension. While Bosa has had a slow start by his standards after skipping training camp and the preseason due to his contract holdout, it’s still far from the “beer belly” Kyle Shanahan said Bosa would have to have to not perform well once under the bright lights. San Francisco’s stud pass rusher still has eight pressures and is averaging the fastest pass rush get-off through two games of a season in his career at .7 seconds.
PASS RUSH SCORE: 96
Garrett has been a picture of consistency since being selected No. 1 overall by the Browns in the 2017 NFL Draft. Cleveland’s star pass rusher has finished in the top 10 in pressure percentage each season since 2018 (min. 250 pass rushes), with his burst at the snap being his most dependable asset. Garrett has also posted a top-three finish in quick pressures (pressures that occur within 2.5 seconds of the snap) each season since 2018, with the exception of his suspension-shortened 2019 campaign.
Garrett’s speed has already taken center stage this season; his .61-second average get-off through two games is the fastest among all players with at least 25 pass rush snaps. With the Browns pairing Garrett with Za’Darius Smith (who we’ll talk about in a minute), Cleveland has found a formidable pass rushing duo that is sure to wreak havoc in opposing backfields all season.
PASS RUSH SCORE: 95
Reddick parlayed a career year with Carolina in 2021 into a three-year, $45 million deal with the Eagles last offseason. Since joining Philadelphia, where his abilities as a pass rusher have become fully unlocked, in 2022, Reddick’s 83 pressures and 39 quick pressures each rank fifth among all players. Rushing the passer alongside the likes of Josh Sweat and Fletcher Cox has its benefits.
Even with a stellar supporting cast of like-minded pass rushers, Reddick’s 16 sacks in 2022 were five more than the next defender on an Eagles unit that featured five players accumulating 30 or more pressures en route to the NFC’s best record. The same can be said about this year’s unit, which boasts five players with five or more pressures through two games. Reddick himself contributed seven pressures, four of which occurred in under 2.5 seconds, in Week 1 against the Patriots.
PASS RUSH SCORE: 95
Hendrickson was just underrated enough as a member of the Saints from 2017 to 2020 to not be a household name, yet he was good enough to land a four-year, $60 million deal with Cincinnati as a free agent in 2021. Since joining the Bengals, Hendrickson’s 19.5 percent quarterback pressure rate is second in the league behind only Micah Parsons.
Hendrickson set a career-high last season in quarterback pressure rate over expected (4.8%), which is the difference between average pressure probability and probability at snap on a single pass-rush play or across a series of pass rushes. This season, Hendrickson is off to a slow start with four pressures through two weeks, marking a career-low since he began getting consistent pass rush snaps in 2019. Cincinnati will be asking a lot of its pass rush and defense this season, especially with Joe Burrow dealing with a lingering calf injury.
PASS RUSH SCORE: 94
As seen in Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the New York Jets, Robert Saleh was a big advocate for Quinnen Williams to get paid this offseason. Williams earned that four-year, $96M extension with his disruptive play since entering the league in 2019, amassing the sixth-most quick pressures among defensive tackles. Last season alone, Williams’ 58.4 percent positive pass rush rate was fourth among defensive tackles with a minimum of 250 pass rush snaps.
And if you’re wondering if the new contract has paid off yet, Williams already has six pressures through two games this season, three of which came in under 2.5 seconds. Consistent disruption up front is crucial for the Jets as they look to win games on defense in the aftermath of Aaron Rodgers’ season-ending Achilles injury.
One of the key cogs in an Eagles defensive front that helped catapult the team into Super Bowl LVII, Hargrave created consistent havoc from the interior, finishing with the highest pressure percentage (14.3%) among defensive tackles (min. 250 pass rush snaps) in 2022. Even more impressive than disrupting the quarterback is how Hargrave did it, as his 2.57-second average time to pressure ranked fourth among defensive tackles last season (min. 250 pass rush snaps).
PASS RUSH SCORE: 93
Smith is Cleveland’s latest (and best) attempt to line up a consistently disruptive pass rusher opposite Myles Garrett. The Browns traded for the 31-year-old pass rusher after a 70-pressure season with Minnesota, the most since Smith pushed into the pocket 93 times with the Packers in 2019.
The three-time Pro Bowler joins a re-tooled Browns defensive front looking to create chaos for opposing offenses. Smith is already getting off the ball faster than he has in the past, as his 0.77-second average get-off is the quickest through two games in his career. In the unlikely scenario it holds up over the course of the entire season, it would be his best mark by a full tenth of a second. The same can be said of Smith’s 2.47 average time to pressure this season, a career-best through two games and maybe a precursor of a career year.
PASS RUSH SCORE: 93
Allen enters the final year of his rookie deal looking to follow up 57- and 74-pressure seasons in 2021 and 2022, respectively, with another monster season. Allen was a force on the edge in 2022 even when double teamed. His eight pressures in such scenarios were second to only Myles Garrett, and Allen and Garrett were the only two players to accumulate more than six.
Allen has already racked up eight pressures through two games this season -- the same as Nick Bosa and Alex Highsmith, who both earned big pay days recently. The fact Allen hasn’t already been paid is perplexing, but there’s little doubt another team will if Jacksonville doesn’t.
After Steelers star defender T.J. Watt was placed on IR early last season, Highsmith rose to the occasion, registering nearly twice as many sacks (14.5) as he did over his first two seasons in the league (eight), and was rewarded with a lucrative contract extension this offseason. Highsmith wins with speed as one of four players with at least 40 quick pressures (41, ranks fourth) over the last two seasons and his average time to pressure (2.55 seconds) is the third-quickest among edge rushers over that time frame. That instant pressure was on display on Monday night, when Highsmith knocked the ball out of Deshaun Watson’s hands just 2.80 seconds after the ball was snapped, leading to a scoop-and-score for his teammate Watt. Highsmith’s explosive performance, which also included a pick-six, earned him the AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.