There has been at least one edge rusher selected in the top five of the NFL draft every year since 2012, where the first edge rusher off the board was Bruce Irvin at pick No. 15. That streak is likely to end this year, as most onlookers agree that there is not an edge rusher worthy of a top-5 pick in this year's draft.
Although this year's group of edge rushers may lack the elite prospects of past drafts, it is certainly an interesting and eclectic group. One top prospect had a single season of double-digit sacks as a sophomore and then declined to play in 2020. Another top prospect may have the record for the greatest disparity between his on-field production and workout performance.
In light of this year's unusual edge rusher prospects in an unusual draft, Football Outsiders' system for projecting college edge rushers, SackSEER, could be helpful in cutting through some of the noise. SackSEER uses pre-draft workout data, along with college statistics, to project the NFL pass rushing prospects of defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers.
Check out the bottom of the article for more detail on how SackSEER works. Here is a ranking of the top edge rusher prospects for 2021 according to our model.