NFL positional pecking order: Ranking all 32 front sevens from worst to best

NFL positional pecking order: Ranking all 32 front sevens from worst to best
NFL positional pecking order: Ranking all 32 front sevens from worst to best

With NFL training camps on the horizon, theScore’s football editors rank all 32 teams by their total talent at each major position group. Depth charts are projections of teams’ post-training camp rosters.

Next up are defensive fronts.

Position Group Rankings
QB | REC | RB
OL | FRONT 7 | DB (July 7)

Bottom tier

32. Arizona Cardinals

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

BJ Ojulari
Rashard Lawrence
Zaven Collins

Myjai Sanders
Leki Fotu
Kyzir White

Dennis Gardeck
Jonathan Ledbetter
Krys Barnes

The Cardinals’ front seven has promise but looks a tad uninspiring. After losing J.J. Watt and Zach Allen this offseason, Arizona is left with rookie Ojulari and second-year pro Sanders as the main pieces. Collins hasn’t delivered his first-round promise, while White should be a solid addition to this defensive front.

31. Minnesota Vikings

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Danielle Hunter
Dean Lowry
Brian Asamoah

Marcus Davenport
Khyiris Tonga
Jordan Hicks

D.J. Wonnum
Harrison Phillips
Troy Reeder

The Vikings’ front seven took a big blow when the team traded away Za’Darius Smith. While Hunter and Davenport are great pieces, the rest leaves a lot to be desired. Minnesota’s defense was a major issue last season, ranking 31st in yardage allowed, and it doesn’t seem like that’ll improve with this year’s unit.

30. Atlanta Falcons

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Lorenzo Carter
Calais Campbell
Troy Anderson

Bud Dupree
Grady Jarrett
Kaden Ellis

Arnold Ebiketie
David Onyemata
Mykal Walker

The Falcons haven’t recorded more than 30 team sacks in four years. Perhaps that changes with the additions of Dupree and Campbell, but this is still a unit that has a very limited ceiling. Ellis boosts what’s an incredibly average linebacking corps.

29. Chicago Bears

Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport / Getty

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Trevis Gipson
Andrew Billings
Tremaine Edmunds

DeMarcus Walker
Gervon Dexter Sr.
T.J. Edwards

Rasheem Green
Zacch Pickens
Jack Sanborn

The Bears’ front seven is built like a luxury car that attracts eyes but has big problems under the hood. Edmunds, Walker, Edwards, and Billings were valuable free-agent additions, but this is a group that lacks serious edge rusher quality. Walker posted seven sacks last season in Tennessee, but can he replicate that in Chicago? Gipson finished with just three sacks in 2022.

28. Houston Texans

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Will Anderson
Maliek Collins
Christian Harris

Jerry Hughes
Sheldon Rankins
Denzel Perryman

Jonathan Greenard
Roy Lopez
Christian Kirksey

Well, at least they have Anderson. That essentially sums up the Texans’ front seven, which is clearly a unit in transition. Veterans like Hughes, Perryman, Rankins, and Kirksey are decent stop-gap options, but this is a defense that screams average. But again, at least Anderson makes it a group worth watching.

Below average

27. Los Angeles Rams

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Byron Young
Aaron Donald
Ernest Jones

Michael Hoecht
Kobie Turner
Christian Rozeboom

Nick Hampton
Bobby Brown III
Jake Hummel

What once was one of the NFL’s most complete defenses and front sevens has now been reduced to Donald and Co. Gone are the likes of Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd. If it weren’t for Donald, who’s still arguably the league’s most disruptive player when healthy, this core would be void of any creditable star power.

26. Denver Broncos

Justin Edmonds / Getty Images Sport / Getty

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Randy Gregory
Zach Allen
Alex Singleton

Baron Browning
Mike Purcell
Josey Jewell

Frank Clark
D.J. Jones
Drew Sanders

On paper, this Broncos unit looks stout. That is if Gregory bounces back after being limited to just six games and two sacks in 2022. Clark is far from his prime, but the veteran is a consistent pass-rusher. Allen has never posted above 5.5 sacks, but the prized free-agent addition could propel this group. In the linebacker group, Singleton is a tackling machine, as his 163 tackles ranked fifth in the NFL last year.

25. Tennessee Titans

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Harold Landry III
Jeffery Simmons
Azeez Al-Shaair

Denico Autry
Teair Tart
Monty Rice

Arden Key
Jayden Peevy
Ben Niemann

One of the game’s best interior defenders, Simmons is the juice that powers this Titans defensive front. The edge depth also has the potential to be scary, with Landry, Autry, and newcomer Key all being proven quarterback destroyers. Al-Shaair was a sneaky good free-agent pickup, too.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Travon Walker
Folorunso Fatukasi
Devin Lloyd

Josh Allen
Roy Robertson-Harris
Foyesade Oluokun

K’Lavon Chaisson
DaVon Hamilton
Chad Muma

The Jaguars’ defensive line is tough as steel, with three capable starters featured in the unit. On the edge, there’s a unique blend of young talent. Walker, a freak athlete, has all the tools to be a star, while Allen has proven to be a high-floor pass-rusher. Oluokun has also been a stud, leading the league in tackles in each of the last two seasons.

23. Indianapolis Colts

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Kwity Paye
DeForest Buckner
Shaquille Leonard

Dayo Odeyingbo
Grover Stewart
E.J. Speed

Samson Ebukam
Adetomiwa Adebawore
Grant Stuard

Buckner is the driving force of the Colts’ pass rush, though Paye could boost the team’s front seven position if he plays to his first-round billing. There’s no denying that Leonard is up there with Buckner as one of the best at his position, but the three-time All-Pro was limited to just three games last season.

22. New Orleans Saints

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Cameron Jordan
Nathan Shepherd
Demario Davis

Carl Granderson
Khalen Saunders
Pete Werner

Isaiah Foskey
Bryan Bresee
Zack Baun

The Saints lost a lot of talent on defense in the last few months, but this front seven can still inflict fear in any offense with the likes of Jordan, an eight-time Pro Bowler, and Davis, who has quietly been one of the game’s best linebackers.

21. Seattle Seahawks

Grant Halverson / Getty Images Sport / Getty

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Uchenna Nwosu
Dre’Mont Jones
Bobby Wagner

Darrell Taylor
Jarran Reed
Jordyn Brooks

Derick Hall
Bryan Mone
Devin Bush

Wagner is back in Seattle, and his return gives the Seahawks one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL. When it comes to getting after the quarterback, Jones, Nwosu, and Taylor are a trio to be feared. Jones put himself on the map while with the Broncos, while Taylor and Nwosu combined for 19 sacks in 2022.

20. Las Vegas Raiders

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Maxx Crosby
Jerry Tillery
Divine Deablo

Chandler Jones
Bilal Nichols
Robert Spillane

Tyree Wilson
Adam Butler
Amari Burney

The Raiders added one of the biggest freaks in this year’s draft in Wilson to an already loaded edge rusher room that contains Crosby and Jones. While Jones didn’t have an eventful first year in Sin City, a bounce-back season isn’t out of the question. The shortcomings in the interior and linebacker depth mean it’s a good thing that Las Vegas’ pass-rushing group is as deep as they come.

19. Detroit Lions

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Aidan Hutchinson
Alim McNeil
Maclolm Rodriguez

James Houston
Isaiah Buggs
Alex Anzalone

Charles Harris
Levi Onwuzurike
Jack Campbell

No one was surprised by the fact that Hutchinson led the Lions in sacks during his rookie year with 9.5. What was a little surprising was that a sixth-round rookie like Houston would be right behind him with eight. Now, Detroit holds a young and jumpstart edge-rusher duo, plus 2023 first-round pick Campbell should provide an immediate effect on the club’s linebacker quality.

18. Baltimore Ravens

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Odafe Oweh
Michael Pierce
Roquan Smith

Tyus Bowser
Justin Madubuike
Patrick Queen

David Ojabo
Broderick Washington
Trenton Simpson

The Ravens made an aggressive move to acquire Smith in a blockbuster trade with the Bears last year, and it’s paid dividends for their defense. Smith might be the headliner, but Queen and Simpson round out one of the league’s top linebacker groups. Baltimore’s interior depth isn’t too shabby, either. Oweh has put up just eight sacks in two seasons, while Ojabo played in only two games in 2022, but there’s just so much reason to believe this edge group could explode this season.

17. Carolina Panthers

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Brian Burns
Derrick Brown
Frankie Luvu

Marquis Haynes Sr.
Henry Anderson
Shaq Thompson

Yetur Gross-Matos
Shy Tuttle
Brandon Smith

While everyone knows what Thompson is all about, the emergence of Luvu really put this front seven on the map. Luvu set career highs in 2022 with 111 tackles, seven sacks, and 19 tackles for a loss. Burns is also coming off his second straight Pro Bowl campaign after a personal-best 12.5 sacks last year. When you account for Brown on the defensive line, the Panthers have at least one star player on each level of their front seven.

Good enough

16. New England Patriots

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Matthew Judon
Deatrich Wise Jr.
Ja’Whaun Bentley

Josh Uche
Lawrence Guy
Jahlani Tavai

Ronnie Perkins
Davon Godchaux
Mack Wilson Sr.

The Patriots hold perhaps two of the most underrated pass-rushers in the NFL in Judon and Uche. Judon has now made four straight Pro Bowls and just keeps getting better, as evidenced by his career-high 15.5 sacks in 2022. Uche put it all together in his third year, recording 11.5 sacks as New England put up 54 total sacks last season. Another key under-the-radar component of the team’s defense is Bentley, who’s coming off his finest season.

15. Kansas City Chiefs

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

George Karlaftis
Chris Jones
Nick Bolton

Charles Omenihu
Derrick Nnadi
Willie Gay

Felix Anudike-Uzomah
Deondre Coburn
Drue Tranquill

The Chiefs’ offense gets all the attention, but let’s not underestimate just how good their defense has been. Jones doesn’t need much said about him, as his numbers (15.5 sacks in 2022) speak for themselves. Karlaftis’ six sacks in his rookie year meant the Chiefs were confident enough in him to move on from longtime edge rusher Frank Clark. Omenihu was a great piece to add after his 4.5 sacks and 21 pressures last year. Bringing in Tranquill also gives Kansas City three linebackers capable of starting.

14. Los Angeles Chargers

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Joey Bosa
Sebastian Joseph-Day
Eric Kendricks

Khallil Mack
Morgan Fox
Kenneth Murray

Tuli Tuipulotu
Austin Johnson
Daiyan Henley

Bosa and Mack come with their own caveats. The former has struggled with durability, while the latter appears to have lost a tiny step. Still, they give the Chargers a ferocious pass rush. After eight seasons with the Vikings, including seven with 100-plus tackles, Kendricks gives Murray a trusted veteran to lean on. Joseph-Day has also been an important fixture that followed Brandon Staley from the Rams to the Chargers.

13. Green Bay Packers

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Rashan Gary
Kenny Clark
De’Vondre Campbell

Preston Smith
Devonte Wyatt
Quay Walker

Lukas Van Ness
T.J. Slayton
Eric Wilson

The Packers have invested a ton into their defense, and it shows with their No. 13 ranking on our list. Van Ness, Gary, Walker, Wyatt, and Clark were all selected in the first round over the last eight years. Veterans like Campbell and Smith complement the young pieces quite well. This is a talented front seven, and that’s great news considering the offense is in the midst of a serious rebuild after losing Aaron Rodgers.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Shaquil Barrett
Vita Vea
Lavonte David

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
Calijah Kancey
Devin White

YaYa Diaby
Logan Hall
SirVocea Dennis

David is somehow still playing at a high level even as he enters his age-33 season. And while White’s name value may exceed his play at times, he’s still an athletic specimen that complements David well. Vea is a run plugger who continues to grow as a pass-rusher, while Kancey, a rookie, was one of the most intriguing prospects of this year’s class. The edge group is surprisingly a big question mark as Barrett showed hints of decline last season, producing only three sacks before tearing his Achilles tendon in Week 8. Meanwhile, Tryon-Shoyinka has yet to crack four sacks since being drafted in the first round in 2021.

11. Miami Dolphins

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Jaelan Phillips
Christian Wilkins
Jerome Baker

Bradley Chubb
Raekwon Davis
David Long Jr.

Emmanuel Ogbah
Zach Sieler
Andrew Van Ginkel

A trio of edge rushers like Phillips, Chubb, and Ogbah should send shivers down the spine of quarterbacks around the league. That didn’t exactly happen last year as Phillips (seven sacks), Chubb (2.5 sacks with Dolphins), and Ogbah (one sack) didn’t live up to expectations. But these are producers who have played at a high level before, especially Chubb and Ogbah. The rest of the front seven is filled with studs, too. Wilkins has been the centerpiece of the unit. Meanwhile, Long Jr. gives Miami another talented linebacker alongside Baker.

Great

10. New York Giants

Cooper Neill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Kayvon Thibodeaux
Dexter Lawrence
Bobby Okereke

Azeez Ojulari
Leonard Williams
Darrian Beavers

Oshane Ximines
A’Shawn Robinson
Jarrad Davis

We’ve now entered great territory of front sevens, and the Giants’ unit certainly is among the NFL’s upper echelon of defenses. A defensive line of Lawrence, Williams, and Robinson is as close to impenetrable as it gets. Lawrence set a new personal best with 7.5 sacks and 28 QB hits last season, and it was just two years ago that Williams put up 11.5 sacks and 30 QB hits. Thibodeaux and Ojulari combined for just 9.5 sacks in 2022, but this promising duo is poised for a monster year at any moment.

9. Dallas Cowboys

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Micah Parsons
Osa Odighizuwa
Leighton Vander Esch

Demarcus Lawrence
Mazi Smith
Damone Clark

Dorance Armstrong
Johnathan Hankins
Jabril Cox

Dallas’ defense begins and ends with Parsons. The 24-year-old has finished as runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in each of his first two seasons. His 26.5 sacks, 33 tackles for a loss, and 56 QB hits have earned him two All-Pro nods. Behind him are Lawrence and Armstrong, who combined for 14.5 sacks last year. The interior depth is a bit light, but Vander Esch has proven to be a solid and dependable force at linebacker.

8. New York Jets

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Carl Lawson
Quinnen Williams
C.J. Mosley

Jermaine Johnson
John Franklin-Myers
Quincy Williams

Will McDonald IV
Quinton Jefferson
Jamien Sherwood

For as much attention as the Jets’ offense is going to get, their defense – especially their front seven – shouldn’t be discounted. Quinnen Williams is coming off his first All-Pro campaign after notching 12 sacks in 2022. Mosley and Quincy Williams patrol the second level like heat-seeking missiles. Their combined 264 tackles and four sacks last season back that up. Lawson put up a respectable seven sacks in 2022, while Johnson should only get better, and rookie McDonald has an intriguing blend of traits on the edge.

7. Washington Commanders

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Montez Sweat
Jonathan Allen
Cody Barton

Chase Young
Daron Payne
Jamin Davis

Efe Obada
Phidarian Mathis
David Mayo

The Commanders earned our top grade for interior defenses, and that shouldn’t come as a shock due to Allen and Payne. The latter just enjoyed his finest year to date with 11.5 sacks, while Allen has made the Pro Bowl in each of his last two seasons. This edge group is worthy of praise and could easily elevate this front seven into the elite category if Young plays up to his draft slot. Sweat has done his part, though, recording at least seven sacks in three of his four seasons.

6. Buffalo Bills

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Von Miller
Ed Oliver
Matt Milano

Greg Rousseau
DaQuan Jones
A.J. Klein

Shaq Lawson
Tim Settle
Tyler Matakevich

A lot is riding on Miller returning to his usual form after an ACL tear ended his 2022. But it sounds like the eight-time Pro Bowler will be ready for Week 1. Miller – even at age 34 – is still a pass-rusher to be feared. Rousseau enjoyed a breakout season last year with eight sacks, while Lawson is quality depth. The interior defense lacks true star power, but Oliver is a commendable piece in the middle. Though the linebacker corps lost a big piece in Tremaine Edmunds, Milano has truly been their most consistent linebacker. He’s coming off his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro campaign.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Trey Hendrickson
DJ Reader
Logan Wilson

Sam Hubbard
BJ Hill
Germaine Pratt

Myles Murphy
Josh Tupou
Akeem Davis-Gaither

Hendrickson has proved himself to be more than a one-year wonder after putting up 22 sacks in his two seasons as a Bengal. Hubbard has also been a dependable pass-rusher who can be counted on for six-to-eight sacks per year. Murphy is a high-ceiling rookie who really gives Cincinnati a lot to be excited about. Hill has been a solid free-agent pickup since joining the Bengals in 2021, while Reader is a key run-plugging defensive tackle. Cincinnati managed to bring back Pratt in free agency, which is good news, considering he just put together his best year in 2022. Pratt and Wilson have been a tremendous duo in the middle.

4. Cleveland Browns

Diamond Images / Diamond Images / Getty

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Myles Garrett
Dalvin Tomlinson
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Za’Darius Smith
Jordan Elliott
Anthony Walker Jr.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Siaki Ika
Sione Takitaki

The Browns’ edge rushers earned our highest average score for the position, and it’s hard to argue against that. Garrett is in the prime of his career after recording 32 total sacks and 35 tackles for a loss over the last two years. Smith – acquired in a trade with the Vikings – put up 10 sacks in 2022 and should be an upgrade over Jadeveon Clowney. Tomlinson – another offseason addition – is an elite run stuffer. In the middle, Owusu-Koramoah is an athletic and versatile linebacker, though the splash plays have yet to follow. Walker and Takitaki round out what’s an impressive front seven.

Elite

3. Philadelphia Eagles

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Haason Reddick
Fletcher Cox
Nicholas Morrow

Brandon Graham
Jalen Carter
Nakobe Dean

Josh Sweat
Jordan Davis
Nolan Smith

The Eagles bring us into the elite tier of front sevens. The only real weakness in this unit is at linebacker, but the rest of the defense is full of talent. Reddick exploded for 16 sacks and five forced fumbles last season, while Sweat and Graham put up 11 sacks each. Even after losing Javon Hargrave, this interior is still elite. Cox is still playing at a high level despite being in the twilight of his career. Somehow, Carter – regarded by many as the top prospect in the 2023 draft – fell into the Eagles’ hands, while Davis is another high-ceiling piece.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

T.J. Watt
Cameron Heyward
Cole Holcomb

Alex Highsmith
Larry Ogunjobi
Elandon Roberts

Nick Herbig
Keeanu Benton
Tanner Muse

Watt, Highsmith, and Heyward give the Steelers one of the NFL’s most feared pass-rushing groups. Watt, a former Defensive Player of the Year, missed time last season but has still put up 28 sacks since 2021. Highsmith blew up in 2022 with a career-high 14.5 sacks, while Heyward put up a double-digit sack line for the second straight year. Ogunjobi didn’t offer much as a pass-rusher in his first season in Pittsburgh, but perhaps Year 2 will be different. Most importantly, the Steelers made a much-needed call to gut their entire linebacker group and bring in veterans like Holcomb and Roberts.

1. San Francisco 49ers

Douglas P. DeFelice / Getty Images Sport / Getty

EDGE DEPTH
INTERIOR DEPTH
LB DEPTH

Nick Bosa
Javon Hargrave
Fred Warner

Drake Jackson
Arik Armstead
Dre Greenlaw

Clelin Ferrell
Javon Kinlaw
Oren Burks

It’s almost unfair that a front seven that already had Bosa, Armstead, and Warner was able to sign a superstar like Hargrave in free agency. The former Eagles defensive tackle is coming off the best performance of his career with an 11-sack showing in 2022. He’ll play alongside Bosa, who was named Defensive Player of the Year last season after leading the NFL with 18.5 sacks. Next up is Warner, who continues to prove why he’s arguably the best linebacker in the game. Greenlaw is a great Robin to Warner’s Batman as well. Out of all the front sevens in 2023, there won’t be one better than the 49ers.

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