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Ranking the NFL’s top 32 edge rushers after the 2024 NFL draft

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Will Anderson Jr. has already added a Defensive Rookie of the Year title to his mantle. Now, he’s going to a switch-up in 2024.

The difference? Change out “rookie” to “player” and expect double the results.

Anderson, the Houston Texans‘ first-round pick in 2023, broke J.J. Watt’s rookie sack record with 7.0 takedowns en route to helping the AFC South franchise win its first division title in four years. No, he wasn’t the only reason for Houston’s turnaround in 2023 under former Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans, but did you see the Texans before his arrival?

Eleven wins in three years? No one externally considered Houston as a playoff sleeper before Anderson and C.J. Stroud touched down at NRG Stadium. Now, the duo feels like the foundation for winning a Super Bowl within five years.

While the Texans bring back Anderson, they lose sack leader Jonathan Greenard. To some teams, that would be a concern. For Houston, it led to a potential upgrade with the signing of Houston native Danielle Hunter.

Last season. Hunter proved he’s improving with age after leading the league in tackles for loss (23) while finishing fifth in sacks (16.5). The Texans also brought back No. 3 standout Derek Barnett, who totaled 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks after joining the squad from Philadelphia.

As a unit, Houston has arguably the best 1-2 combination of pass rushers in the division. It may have a top-three unit in the conference and a top-five tandem in the league. 

But what about as a solo act? Where does Anderson rank? How high is Hunter among standout edge players?

Here’s how Texans Wire ranks the top 32 pure pass-rushers in the league entering June, including one potential breakout rookie.

Nov 27, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) warms up before the game between the Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Dec 11, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) carries the ball as Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) pursues during the first half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

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Nov 24, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) celebrates his forced fumble during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 25, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Allegiant Stadium. The Buccaneers defeated the Raiders 45-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 05: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Lumen Field on December 05, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) celebrates a play against Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of the NFC divisional round at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024.

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (91) tackles Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) in the fourth quarter AFC championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Cincinnati Bengals defeated Kansas City Chiefs 27-24.

Cincinnati Bengals At Kansas City Chiefs Jan 30 Afc Championship 88

Albert Cesare/The Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)

Danielle Hunter

(Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports)

Jan 14, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) sacks Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) during the second quarter of a wild card game at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 24, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) is sacked for a safety by New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon (9) in the 4th quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 29: Will Anderson Jr. #51 of the Houston Texans celebrates a sack during the second quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Sep 17, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa (97) lines up before the snap during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith (56) celebrates an interception in the fourth quarter of the NFL 16 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. The Steelers won 34-11.

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Oct 2, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack (52) sacks Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) during the second quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 17, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb (2) celebrates after recovering a fumble during the second half against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 3, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) reacts after a defensive stop against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets defensive end Bryce Huff (47) celebrates a sack against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 16, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive end Samson Ebukam (52) celebrates a sack in the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Dec 17, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Montez Sweat (98) chases Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco (15) during the first quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 3, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets linebacker Jermaine Johnson (11) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 25, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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Dec 11, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) scrambles from the pressure by Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (90) during the second half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 31, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau (50) encourages the crowd to cheer in the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) celebrates recovering a fumble against the Los Angeles Chargers during their football game Sunday, November 19, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 10: C.J. Stroud #7 of the Houston Texans runs the play against Jadeveon Clowney #24 of the Baltimore Ravens during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on September 10, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Nov 7, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA;Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is tackled by Tennessee Titans linebacker David Long (51) and outside linebacker Harold Landry (58) in the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 27: Nico Collins #12 of the Houston Texans runs the ball while defended by Jaelan Phillips #15 of the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

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Aug 26, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) rushes Houston Texans offensive tackle Breno Giacomini (68) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans Saints won 13-0. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – JANUARY 21: Josh Sweat #94 of the Philadelphia Eagles forces a fumble against Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants during the fourth quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 21, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Nov 5, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Za’Darius Smith (99) sacks Arizona Cardinals quarterback Clayton Tune (15) during the fourth quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

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