It’s never too early to start looking ahead to free agency, with the first day of the 2023 NFL calendar now just three months away. This list will be updated as free agency nears, with more players added and rankings perpetually in flux.
Here are the top 50 free agents, headlined by three quarterbacks who all got to this point via completely different paths.
1. QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Who else but the 2019 MVP and most electrifying player in the NFL? No one produces more must-see TV than Jackson, and the facade that a quarterback can only win with a certain play style is slowly fading.
Jackson is not just the league’s most electrifying open-field runner at the quarterback position. His 4.9% big-time throw rate since 2019 is a top-16 mark among qualifying quarterbacks, and he boasts a 93.3 passing grade on throws 10-plus yards downfield in that same span.
The Ravens once again elected to largely neglect the wide receiver position this offseason, which doesn’t get discussed enough when people criticize Jackson’s game, as they seemingly love to do. Jackson will never be a pure dropback passer, but the belief this is necessary to win in 2022 needs to disappear; that’s just not the era of football we’re in anymore.
2. QB Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
Imagine before the season began, mired in a quarterback battle with Drew Lock in Seattle, that we’d have Geno Smith as a top free-agent target for the 2023 offseason. It’s not often you hear about the age-32, Year 10 breakout, but that’s exactly what we’re witnessing this season from Smith.
Nothing about what he’s doing is fluky or excessively bolstered by things like play action, an outlier performance in unstable metrics like passing grade against pressure, or any other method you use to try to poke holes in his production this season. Smith’s 79.8 overall grade and 87.6 grade from a clean pocket this season ranked ninth and 12th, respectively. His 14 passing touchdowns on throws of 20-plus yards were two more than the next-best quarterback, and his 5.6% big-time throw rate ranked fifth.
There’s no current indication we should expect some massive regression, either. Smith’s 85.8 passing grade against middle-of-field-open coverage further illustrates that he didn't benefit in an outsized fashion from loaded box counts that freed up his receivers in an effort to sell out against the run. We can go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that Smith played like a legitimate top quarterback in the NFL in 2022.
While it remains unclear whether Brady wants to run it back for his age-46 season in 2023, one thing is crystal clear: He’s still among the elite throwers of the football in the NFL today. Many scoffed at the notion Tampa Bay would become immediate contenders when signing him in 2020 free agency at the tender age of 43, and all he did was win a Super Bowl in his first season with the team and follow that up with a 13-win 2021 campaign in which he nearly mounted a miraculous comeback in the divisional round against the Los Angeles Rams.
Brady has an argument to be the top player on this list, but given he may very well retire, we'll let the young bucks go ahead of him this time around. Brady’s 79.3 passing grade ranks seventh on the season, and the 16 drops by his wide receivers tied for the fifth most on the year. Granted, he threw a league-leading 733 passes this regular season, averaging nearly 45 attempts per game outside of Week 18 when he was pulled early.
Brady’s 2.5% turnover-worthy play rate ranked eighth lowest among qualifying quarterbacks, further illustrated by his streak of 399 consecutive passes without an interception that ended in Germany when Seattle Seahawks linebacker Cody Barton picked him off over the middle. This was the second-longest streak in NFL history, just three attempts behind the record of 402 set by Aaron Rodgers in 2018.
Even at 45, Brady is still among the league’s best. Just don’t line him up out wide and throw him the ball. Otherwise, things should continue to go quite well.
Hargrave moved from western Pennsylvania over to the East Coast during 2020 free agency and has been a force in Philadelphia, blossoming into one of the elite interior pass-rushers in the NFL over the past few seasons. Since 2020, Hargrave’s 92.2 pass-rush grade trails only Aaron Donald and Chris Jones at the position, with his 18.8% pass-rush win rate also ranking third.
Hargrave will be 30 years old for the 2023 season, but we’ve seen many interior defenders maintain longevity well into their 30s recently. Hargrave is also intriguing, as different responsibilities between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have led to interesting splits as a run defender or pass rusher. His run-defense grades were much better in his first stop, but it seems he can excel at whatever is asked of him, which is good to know for interested teams that likely don’t frequently deploy a five-man front and do a lot of the other exotic things Philadelphia does up front.
It appears far more likely Bates will reach unrestricted free agency this time around after Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on him last offseason and never made a serious multi-year offer.
His 76.8 PFF grade this season ranked 13th at the position, his 84.8 run-defense grade was a top-five mark. This year marked Bates' fifth 1,000-plus-snap season in as many years as an NFL player, pairing his above-average skill set with remarkable reliability. He ranks behind only Kevin Byard in regular-season snaps played among safeties since 2018.
6. CB Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fellow Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis returned to the team this offseason on a three-year, $44.5 million contract that could serve as something of a benchmark to clear for Dean wherever he potentially ends up. Dean carries some injury history but has outperformed Davis since entering the league in 2019, earning coverage grades above 75.0 in every season thus far:
|Player||Coverage Grade||Yds/Cov. Snap Allowed||Run-Defense Grade||Open-Target %|
Dean takes some risks attempting to jump routes that at times can lead to explosive receptions over the top, but his size, athleticism and physicality at the line of scrimmage enable him to disrupt opposing wide receivers' releases and will have a lot of teams interested. He doesn’t have great ball skills — though he did snag two interceptions on the year — and can be a bit stiff in the hips, but we’re nitpicking here with a guy who can match up well with a lot of the top big-bodied wide receivers across the NFL.
One of the best off-ball linebackers of his generation, David is still playing at an extremely high level and may benefit from New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis and Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner playing very good football well into their 30s on recently signed contracts of their own. Potentially losing a step or two with age can be negated by elite play recognition and instincts, both of which David has in spades.
David’s 88.5 coverage grade this season ranked second among off-ball linebackers, and his elite 93.0 mark over the past four seasons is the top mark at the position.
After every big-name wide receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft class who was set to hit free agency this offseason signed monster extensions before the year began, Meyers found himself as the top free agent at a position that is growing in importance (and value) every single week. Meyers was an undrafted free agent find of the Patriots in 2019 who has blossomed into a very good player, returning to New England in 2022 on a restricted free agent tender and comfortably outperforming all the other major investments the team made at the position over the past two offseasons.
New England may certainly try to keep Meyers around, likely letting Nelson Agholor reach free agency at the least, but they’ve also made it a habit of letting players walk after their rookie contract value is gone, notably with another former undrafted free agent in cornerback J.C. Jackson last offseason.
Meyers is predominantly a slot receiver but is certainly not just that, logging a little more than one-third of his snaps out wide. What he lacks in physical tools — his 4.63-second 40-yard dash ranks in the 14th percentile among wide receivers in PFF’s database — he more than makes up for with sharp route running and great hands. Over the past three seasons, his 3.1% drop rate ranks ninth among qualifying wide receivers, and at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he can use his frame to make contested catches. His 63.2% contested catch rate is a top-five mark among all wide receivers over the same span.
McGlinchey hasn’t quite lived up to his top-10 pick billing coming out of the 2018 NFL NFL Draft, but he is a quality starter at right tackle who has returned to form after suffering a torn quadriceps in 2021. He’s dealt with various minor injuries over the years but has done well to avoid missing much time overall.
McGlinchey is a perfect fit in Kyle Shanahan’s wide-zone rushing attack, with his 85.4 run-blocking grade since he entered the league a top-10 mark among tackles. He still has room to grow as a pass protector but notably dropped his pressure percentage allowed from 6.1% over his first three seasons to 5.1% over the past two.
10. OT Orlando Brown Jr., Kansas City Chiefs
After threatening to hold out for the 2022 season following a franchise-tag saga that didn’t culminate in a long-term deal, Brown turned a slow start into a strong second half protecting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. From Week 10 to the end of the regular season, Brown’s 88.7 pass-blocking grade ranked third best among left tackles.
He may not become one of the game’s true top tackles given his much-maligned athletic limitations, but he’s a very reliable blindside protector who has succeeded in two diametrically opposed offensive schemes.
11. DI Daron Payne, Washington Commanders
Payne showed early in his NFL career that he could be a stout run defender from the nose tackle position, with his 86 defensive stops against the run the most in the NFL from 2018-20. And he has now continued to build on his pass-rush arsenal to the point where he’s a problem for interior offensive linemen trying to keep their quarterback upright. Payne has 95 quarterback pressures since the start of 2021, 10th most among interior defenders, with his 11.8% pass-rush win rate over the same span a very respectable figure on the inside.
Payne still needs to put all his tools together for a complete season where he’s a positive factor in both facets, and he’s shown he has the talent to do just that.
12. LB David Long, Tennessee Titans
The Titans ask a lot of their off-ball linebackers, and Long can do it all. His 89.0 run-defense grade in 2022 ranked fourth at the position, with his 13 tackles for loss or no gain tied for 12th. Long plays a downhill, attacking brand of football that helps him blow up a lot of plays but also makes him particularly susceptible to over-committing on play-action passes and missing tackles when he takes a poor pursuit angle. Nevertheless, he is clearly an ascending young player contributing immensely to Tennessee’s defense that finished first in expected points added per rush allowed on the season.
The 2022 season was Long’s first as a full-time starter at middle linebacker, but he’s made the most of opportunities in the past. Over the past three seasons, his 19.8% pass-rush win rate and 23.8% pressure rate are both the second-best marks among off-ball linebackers with at least 100 pass-rush snaps over the span.
13. RB Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
Jacobs became just the 11th player in NFL history to record 300-plus yards from scrimmage in a single game, capping an overtime victory in Week 12 with an 86-yard touchdown dash. His 303 yards are tied for the eighth most ever and stand alone as the fourth most by a running back. He was a force for a struggling Raiders team in 2022.
Jacobs’ 91.9 rushing grade in 2022 ended up as the top mark at the position, and his cumulative 93.2 rushing grade over his first four seasons ranks behind only Nick Chubb, with his 267 missed tackles forced over the span ranking first and his 118 explosive rushes coming in at fourth. All the while, he's picking up 71.4% of his rushing yards after first contact — a top-25 figure among qualifying running backs.
While he’ll never be known as a receiver or pass blocker, he’s a net positive in both facets for his career, giving him true workhorse value like we’ve seen this season in Las Vegas. Jacobs has been a major beneficiary of his fifth-year option for 2023 not being exercised by this new regime.
14. RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
When healthy, there is no question Barkley is a difference-maker on the ground and through the air. That may be understating things, as he was a significant chunk of the Giants' offense in the 2022 regular season. Barkley accounted for nearly 30% of New York's total yards on offense in 2022. His usage appeared to have caught up with him at times, but that illustrates how much he did for the team in every conceivable way.
While we’re a few years and injuries removed from Barkley’s historic rookie campaign in 2018, during which he racked up more than 2,000 all-purpose yards and a staggering 91 receptions, Barkley will be just 26 for the 2023 season and has a very high floor wherever he ends up. His 32 explosive rushes this season tied for the fifth most among running backs, and while the upside of him breaking off a big gain is where a lot of his value lies, it’s also notable that he dropped his rate of stuffed runs down to 6.8% in 2022 compared to 9.2% over his three healthy seasons when he tried to bounce too many runs outside instead of trusting his blocking.
15. DI Dalvin Tomlinson, Minnesota Vikings
Tomlinson has been shuffled around on the interior after playing mostly nose tackle with the New York Giants to start his career, with Minnesota lining him up more as a three-technique when playing alongside Michael Pierce (in 2021) or Harrison Phillips. Tomlinson has never missed more than five tackles in a season, and his 83.0 run-defense grade since 2017 is a top-16 mark at the position.
While Tomlinson missed Weeks 9-12 due to injury, he managed to post a career-best 79.1 pass-rush grade and a sixth straight season to start his career grading above 74.0 overall. He’s a better fit as a zero- or one-technique, with his 55 tackles for loss or no gain since 2017 the third-most among interior players and with his pass-rush upside better deployed as an added benefit but not the primary feature.
16. CB James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles
We wrote earlier this year about potential candidates for extensions before the 2022 season concluded, and Bradberry found himself on that list because of a great start to the year. His 46.0% completion percentage allowed was the fourth-best mark among cornerbacks for the 2022 regular season, and his 19 forced incompletions ranked second.
Bradberry is likely best as a No. 2 after years of proving himself as a reliable No. 1, but there should be a huge market for his services nonetheless, as he’s proven to be adaptable, reliable and available throughout his NFL career. This season marked his fourth consecutive campaign with 1,000-plus snaps.
17. CB Cam Sutton, Pittsburgh Steelers
Sutton quietly continued to excel in a Pittsburgh coverage unit that was otherwise very exploitable this season, with 2022 being just his second season as a full-time starter on the outside. Sutton signed a two-year, $9 million deal in 2021 that he outplayed in 2022, earning a 71.0 coverage grade and allowing just 411 receiving yards — the ninth fewest among cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps on the season.
Sutton’s versatility as a defensive back who can still line up in the slot when called upon provides added value for interested teams, as well.
18. CB Patrick Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Peterson’s 80.7 grade in 2022 was the second-highest mark of his illustrious 12-year career, an impressive accomplishment this far down the road. Peterson intercepted 6.9% of passes thrown into his coverage this season, the fifth-best mark in the NFL, but his value is seen outside of just the turnovers. Peterson’s 82.5 coverage grade ended up trailing only three other players, including New York Jets rookie phenom Sauce Gardner, with his 0.81 yards per coverage snap allowed also a top-15 mark.
The Vikings' cornerback situation outside of Peterson in 2022 was a struggle almost every week, and his consistent performance was a major reason they managed to win close games despite not looking like a true top team based on various underlying metrics.
19. S Jordan Poyer, Buffalo Bills
Poyer was seeking an extension before the 2022 season, and his performance this year goes a long way in proving why he was worthy of a new deal, but various injuries have also illustrated perhaps why Buffalo was wary of committing to the 31-year-old beyond 2022. That said, Poyer logged 950-plus snaps in every season from 2017-21, so his toughness and willingness to play through ailments cannot be questioned.
The 2022 campaign marked Poyer's fourth consecutive regular season earning coverage grades and overall grades above 70.0, with a lot of turnover in the Bills' secondary throughout the season, most notably with his safety partner Micah Hyde lost for the year. Poyer’s 92.1 coverage grade since 2020 is the best among safeties. He still has good football left to be played.
20. DI Dre'Mont Jones, Denver Broncos
Jones still has room to round out his game, but the value of an interior pass rusher has never been more apparent than during the 2022 season, and that’s exactly where Jones wins. Since he entered the league in 2019, Jones’ 138 quarterback pressures are tied for the 19th most among interior defenders, with his 14.5% pass-rush win rate ranking 11th best over the span.
Jones set career highs in snaps played, quarterback pressures and stops this season. Players with his skill set don’t hit free agency too often, and teams looking for a 3-4 defensive end will be very interested in bringing him aboard this March.
21. TE Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
Schultz had a very slow start to the year, perhaps in part due to residual frustration over the lack of extension negotiations following his franchise tag, but came on strong in the middle of the season. From Week 7 to Week 12, his 83.5 grade ranked third among tight ends, including a 76.8 receiving grade and an 82.5 run-blocking grade to go along with 2.11 yards per route run (fourth), 230 receiving yards (fifth), three contested catches (tied fourth) and three touchdowns (fifth).
Schultz’s ceiling may not be the highest, but he’s a reliable pass catcher who can find soft spots in zone coverage and a plus run blocker in a league that has very few of them at the tight end position. He could turn into a good value as a second-tier signing a bit below the top of the market.
22. EDGE Marcus Davenport, New Orleans Saints
Injuries once again hampered Davenport’s season, but he’s a remarkably effective pass rusher off the edge when healthy, and his talent alone could be worth the gamble in free agency — especially given the relative lack of edge rushers available. Since he entered the league in 2018, Davenport’s 17.8% pass-rush win rate and 13.9% pressure percentage are both top-20 marks among edge defenders, and he’s also earned a very respectable 82.1 run-defense grade for his career, which ranks 16th over the span.
Davenport has five straight campaigns grading above 70.0. The issue is that he’s yet to log 600 snaps in a single season. At the end of the day, top-20 edge defenders against the pass and run don’t reach free agency often, and while his injury list is long, it doesn’t include any devastating ligament tears.
23. DI Zach Allen, Arizona Cardinals
Allen has taken advantage of mentorship from future first-ballot Hall of Famer J.J. Watt early in his career, and he took a big leap in 2022. Allen earned his first run-defense grade above 60.0 and first pass-rush grade above 70.0, with a career-best 35 quarterback pressures and 8.3% pressure rate.
Allen could be a big benefactor of the pending market explosion among interior defenders, though he will land in the second or third tier of the position group.
24. LB T.J. Edwards, Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia brought Edwards back in 2022 on a one-year, $2.15 million deal at a position they have all but refused to invest in with top draft capital or free-agent dollars in many years, but Edwards may put the Eagles’ positional value to the test this offseason if they want to keep him around.
He had a career year, helping turn around the Eagles' defense with the second-best grade among off-ball linebackers (84.4). Edwards was one of just four linebackers to earn grades above 75.0 in run defense and coverage, generating 11 quarterback pressures on just 26 pass-rush snaps, as well. The former undrafted free agent is in for a big pay raise this offseason after making the absolute most of his one-year deal.
25. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills
Edmunds made huge strides in coverage in 2022, a major weakness in his game through his first four seasons. He is a truly freakish athlete and will be 25 years old throughout his entire sixth NFL season in 2023 after being selected No. 16 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft as the second-youngest player in the overall class.
Edmunds’ 86.9 coverage grade in 2022 was the third-best mark among off-ball linebackers, and he forced an incompletion on 10.3% of targets into his coverage while allowing just four explosive receptions the entire season (0.9% of targets into his coverage, ninth among linebackers). Edmunds also missed just 6.5% of potential tackles, the lowest rate of his career and another huge sign of continued growth from a football intelligence and play recognition standpoint.
26. EDGE Jadeveon Clowney, Cleveland Browns
Clowney’s somewhat bizarre NFL journey continues, and he will almost certainly be playing somewhere besides Cleveland in 2023 after comments he made about frustration with his role led to him being inactive for Week 18. The multi-year deal he’s been seeking for several offseasons may ultimately never come at this point, and he’ll be a year-to-year mercenary for around $10 million annually.
Clowney has also struggled to stay on the field due to a handful of injuries over the past few years, failing to reach 500 snaps played for the second time in three seasons. All of that said, Clowney still flashes his tantalizing No. 1 overall pick talent just enough to make him an intriguing option for many teams. Clowney — always a stout run defender and strong edge setter — also missed just 7.4% of potential tackles, his first season below 12.5% since 2016.
27. CB Jonathan Jones, New England Patriots
Jones had a remarkable first half of the 2022 season after moving to outside cornerback for the first time in his career and locking down opposing receivers week in and week out, but he eventually came back down to earth over the second half of the season as bigger No. 1 receivers took advantage of his 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame. Through the first 10 weeks of the season, Jones’ 82.1 coverage grade ranked sixth among cornerbacks. Down the homestretch, his 53.9 coverage grade ranked 82nd.
Nevertheless, Jones proved a lot with his versatility, and teams can now project him outside or back in the slot going forward.
The Eagles traded for Gardner-Johnson this past offseason after he couldn’t come to terms with the New Orleans Saints on a contract extension, and it was somewhat surprising the aggressive Eagles didn’t extend him right then and there. Nevertheless, Gardner-Johnson got off to a strong start, and his six interceptions tied for the most in the NFL. An injury knocked him out for five weeks to close out the year, but he’s back for the playoffs and has a lot to prove in the postseason.
The former Saints slot cornerback’s versatility was on full display in Week 18 against the New York Giants fresh off injured reserve, logging a few key snaps in the slot with Avonte Maddox out with an injury and allowing just two receptions for five yards to go along with two defensive stops. The interesting thing with his market will be where his next team — if he doesn’t stay in Philadelphia — projects him in the lineup, with safeties earning a lot more on average than slot cornerbacks.
29. OT Kaleb McGary, Atlanta Falcons
McGary, a first-round pick in 2019, had his fifth-year option declined for 2023 and responded with a career year that sets him up nicely. The Falcons may consider a franchise tag, but the approximately $18.25 million price may be too rich in their eyes.
McGary’s 91.6 run-blocking grade ranked second among tackles, trailing only the great Trent Williams, with 19.7% of his run-blocking snaps earning a positive grade, which also placed second best. The concern here will be if he’s a beneficiary of the NFL’s run-heaviest offense and if his 66.9 pass-blocking grade — a career best — can continue to improve in years to come.
30. LB Germaine Pratt, Cincinnati Bengals
With both Bengals starting safeties in Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell pending free agents, a big extension for wide receiver Tee Higgins likely in play and fellow off-ball linebacker Logan Wilson also eligible for an extension after the season, it’s possible Pratt hits the market even after a career year.
Pratt’s 90.1 coverage grade was the best mark in the NFL. He missed just two tackles in coverage and allowed only four explosive receptions. Pratt didn’t miss many tackles as a run defender, either, whiffing on just 5.9% of opportunities after three straight seasons above 10% to start his career. Last but certainly not least, Pratt also peaked at the right time, with his 90.1 overall grade since Week 8 the top mark among linebackers.
31. OG Ben Powers, Baltimore Ravens
Powers took a meteoric leap as a pass protector in 2022, with his 86.5 pass-blocking grade the second-best mark among guards this season. Powers allowed zero sacks and just one quarterback hit the entire year, playing in front of three different quarterbacks over the second half of the campaign.
The 6-foot-4, 338-pound behemoth struggles a bit as a run blocker, but if he could do enough to get by in Baltimore, odds are he can hold up well enough elsewhere.
32. OG Isaac Seumalo, Philadelphia Eagles
Seumalo entered 2022 with some uncertainty after missing a ton of time with injuries over the 2020-21 seasons, and after the Eagles used a second-round pick on interior offensive lineman Cam Jurgens, but Seumalo logged more than 1,000 snaps in 2022 and had a huge bounceback year, earning a career-best 75.2 overall grade.
Seumalo was the model of consistency not just from a health standpoint, earning just one single-game grade below 60.0 on the season — and a 59.4 at that. Seumalo’s pass blocking from Week 11 on — protecting two very different quarterbacks in Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew — was nothing short of spectacular, earning a 90.4 mark with zero quarterback hits and pressure allowed on just 1.8% of pass-block snaps.
Smith-Schuster signed an incentive-laden, one-year deal for 2022 that paid him close to nothing in base value but included a ton of upside that he took major advantage of down the stretch. Smith-Schuster earned an additional $1.5 million with his 78 receptions, another $1.5 million with his 933 receiving yards and another $1.5 million for playing more than 65% of offensive snaps. His $3.25 million base value deal is already at $7.75 million with room for $2 million more if he’s a full participant in the AFC championship game and Super Bowl.
Entering his seventh NFL season, Smith-Schuster will still be just 26 years old for the majority of the 2023 campaign. He’s tough over the middle of the field and takes a handful of big shots each season, which is certainly not ideal but never causes him to hear footsteps and alligator-arm tough catches with a defender bearing down on him. While he’s likely not going to get a huge multi-year deal, he could be the primary benefactor of a very weak free-agent class at wide receiver, representing one of the better options with a high floor.
34. TE Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins’ decision to place the franchise tag on Gesicki made very little sense given the implementation of new head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense that represented a terrible fit for his skill set, and those exact fears played out. As frustrating as it probably was for Gesicki to get tagged — as it is for any player — in hindsight it wasn’t the worst thing for him to earn $10.931 million and stay healthy heading into free agency once again. He certainly isn’t facing a tag again, and Miami should let him go to a team that can utilize his “big slot receiver” playing style much better.
35. OT Jawaan Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars
Taylor had a career year as a pass protector, earning his highest pass-blocking grade with a 76.4 mark that landed him in the top 25 among tackles on the year. Taylor allowed pressure on just 2.5% of dropbacks, the third-lowest mark among tackles in the NFL, though quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s lightning-quick 2.51-second average time to throw certainly helped. However, Taylor’s 76.7 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets still ranked 14th among tackles and his 5.2% pressure rate allowed was a top-10 mark.
On the other hand, Taylor had the highest rate of negatively graded run blocks among tackles in the NFL (22.4%). This is, of course, the less important aspect of tackle play, but it’s undoubtedly still a cause for concern if a lineman is earning a negative grade on more than one out of every five rushing plays.
36. LB Bobby Okereke, Indianapolis Colts
Okereke stepped up in a major way in the absence of fellow off-ball linebacker Shaquille Leonard, with his 72.9 grade ranking 23rd at the position. Okereke was particularly stout against the run, with his 13 defensive stops against the run tied for the 13th most. Okereke is now coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 100 tackles and 50 defensive stops.
The former third overall pick still has room to grow as a coverage player, but at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, he moves well enough in space to not be a liability in coverage.
37. EDGE Melvin Ingram III, Miami Dolphins
A year after Ingram was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and immediately became their best edge defender for the stretch run, he signed a steal of a one-year deal with the Dolphins and once again played at a very high level, far outpacing his compensation.
Ingram is a rotational player at this stage in his career, with fewer than 600 snaps in three straight seasons, but he’s still very effective, earning his eighth straight overall and pass-rush grades above 70.0 while generating a quarterback pressure on over 10% of pass-rush reps for the eighth consecutive season.
38. EDGE Justin Houston, Baltimore Ravens
Just like Miami Dolphins edge defender Melvin Ingram III, Houston was forced to sign a modest one-year deal and completely outplayed his contract from day one even as a rotational pass-rush specialist with just 400 snaps on the season. Houston’s 18.4% pass-rush win rate and 14.6% pressure percentage were both top-25 marks among edge defenders, and he managed to add 9.5 sacks to his total, which brings him to 111.5 for his career, a top-40 mark all time. For a team looking for a menace on passing downs, Houston is still that guy entering his age-34 season.
39. EDGE Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
Graham is likely going to re-sign with the Eagles as a rotational pass-rush specialist or retire, but he’s worthy of making this list, as the ageless wonder had the first 10-sack season of his career at age 34 and was an absolute problem on passing downs. Graham’s 22.9% pass-rush win rate ranked sixth among edge defenders, and his 17.1% pressure percentage came in at seventh. The fact that Graham finished top 10 in both metrics coming off a torn Achilles at his age is remarkable, and there are no signs he can’t run it back in 2023.
40. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys
Vander Esch quietly played some good football in 2022 after signing a one-year flier to return to the Cowboys following a free agency period that didn’t pan out as he’d hoped. Unfortunately for Vander Esch, he once again finds himself in the middle of the pack of a deep free-agent group at linebacker, but he should do a bit better this time around.
Vander Esch’s 70.8 grade is his best since his rookie season in 2018, and he also set career highs in missed tackle rate (6.5%) and yards allowed per coverage snap (0.49).
He’s expected to return for Dallas’ playoff run after a shoulder injury knocked him out down the stretch, which will provide a big boost to the ferocious Cowboys defense.
41. EDGE Charles Omenihu, San Francisco 49ers
Omenihu thus far in his career has been more of a rotational player, but he’s been on a tear as a pass rusher over the past two seasons, especially after the Houston Texans traded him to the 49ers. Omenihu’s 20.4% pass-rush win rate since 2021 ranks 12th among edge defenders, and his 13.6% pressure percentage ranks 24th.
Omenihu also brings versatility along the defensive line with his 6-foot-5, 280-pound frame enabling him to line up over tackles or as a true end outside the opposing tackle's outside shoulder, though he doesn’t use his size as much as one would like in the run game, missing far too many tackles over his entire career.
42. OT Kelvin Beachum, Arizona Cardinals
Beachum earned his 10th straight season-long pass-blocking grade above 70.0 and showed few signs of slowing down at 33 years old, logging over 1,100 snaps with a revolving door of lineman teammates at each of the other four positions all season long.
He’s limited as a run blocker, and that won’t change, but you know what you’re going to get with Beachum at right tackle, and you’re likely going to get tremendous value considering he’s coming off a two-year, $4 million deal signed in 2021.
43. DI Sheldon Rankins, New York Jets
Rankins signed a two-year deal with the Jets after the former first-rounder’s rookie contract expired in New Orleans. He had a strong start to the 2022 season before briefly going down with an injury but returned to finish the year on a stout Jets defensive front. Rankins’ 73.1 overall grade is the second-best mark of his career, with his 33 tackles a new high watermark. Rankins is solid both as a run defender and pass rusher but isn't special in either facet. Nevertheless, he’s a solid target this offseason as a cheaper interior defender with the top of the market set to explode to new heights.
44. C Ethan Pocic, Cleveland Browns
Pocic signed a one-year contract with the Browns after beginning his career with the Seattle Seahawks, faring much better under the tutelage of offensive line coaching savant Bill Callahan. Pocic’s 79.2 overall, 71.5 pass-blocking and 79.2 run-blocking grade are all career highs, and it was great to see him able to return from a knee injury to close out the year.
Cleveland has two of the NFL’s highest-paid guards in Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, and the team extended right tackle Jack Conklin shortly before the end of the season, so it seems possible Pocic will reach the open market where he’ll be PFF's highest-rated available center by a decent margin.
45. RB Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Pollard slowly but surely ate into Ezekiel Elliott’s workload this season as the back who clearly had way more burst and ability to break off explosive plays, with his 31 explosive rushes the sixth most in the NFL despite him working as the No. 2 back for the most part. He’s also a dynamic receiving weapon, with five explosive receptions landing him in the top 15. Clearly, he’s a big play waiting to happen every time he steps on the field, but the one knock — if you wanted to find one — would be occasional negative plays, with his 9.3% stuff rate ranking 20th highest among 67 backs with at least 50 carries.
Dallas still trusted Elliott more in short-yardage situations and at the goal line, which is completely understandable, but we’re nitpicking here. Pollard deserves the opportunity to lead a backfield, and that opportunity may still come in Dallas.
46. S Vonn Bell, Cincinnati Bengals
Bell has been a somewhat under-the-radar field general on the backend who serves as a glue guy for his defense in his career, and 2022 was no different as Bengals cornerbacks went down with injuries all year long. A stout run defender, Bell boasts an 88.7 run-defense grade over the past five seasons that ranks eighth best among safeties. He did record the highest rate of missed tackles in his career in 2022 (14.8%), but his track record speaks for itself.
Bell can hold his own in coverage, as well, earning his second consecutive coverage grade above 65.0. He’s a very solid all-around player who would be a nice fit with any team.
47. DI David Onyemata, New Orleans Saints
Onyemata started the 2022 season serving a six-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, and it’s fair to wonder if that had something to do with his 2020-21 season grades both being over 80.0 before earning his 64.0 mark in 2022. Nevertheless, Onyemata continued to be a very effective pass rusher from the interior, racking up 35 quarterback pressures. Over the past three seasons, Onyemata’s 11.4% pressure percentage ranks 11th among interior defenders, and he was still just shy of 10% in 2022. Onyemata turned 30 years old this season but still has some good football left in him.
48. OG Dalton Risner, Denver Broncos
Risner offered consistency along a Broncos offensive line that had anything but at every other position, logging almost 1,000 snaps before unfortunately missing the season finale with an elbow injury. Before going down, Risner earned his second consecutive pass-blocking grade above 70.0, with a 65.7 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets that ranked 22nd among guards.
It’s a great time for Risner to hit free agency, with a short list of quality interior offensive linemen available. Risner is right at the top of that list.
49. CB Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens
Peters returned in 2022 from a torn ACL suffered in 2021, and after an understandably slow start to the season, he regained his form down the stretch in a Baltimore secondary that settled in as the year went along.
One of the league’s premier interception hawks at cornerback, Peters failed to record multiple picks for the first time in his career. The soon-to-be 30-year-old suffered a calf strain in December that sidelined him for the final three weeks of the regular season, but this was just his first season outside of 2021 where he didn’t log at least 900 snaps. A big playoff outing against the elite crop of Cincinnati Bengals pass-catchers could help build momentum for him heading into the offseason. Peters is likely looking at one-year offers in free agency to serve as a No. 2 cornerback with upside going forward.
50. TE Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars
Engram landed in Jacksonville on a one-year, $9 million flier for the 2022 season after a rocky tenure with the New York Giants marred by some inopportune drops. The Giants were asking Engram to block as an inline tight end and do a lot of things that didn’t match his skill set very well, but Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson had a much better plan for him in Jacksonville, and he put up a career year in the process.
Engram’s 73 receptions were tied for the third most among tight ends, his 766 receiving yards ranked fourth and his 481 yards after the catch placed second. Even with an uptick in targets, Engram had a career-low 3.9% dropped pass percentage, good for a top-15 mark among tight ends with at least 25 targets on the season. The former first-rounder will look to cash in on a multi-year deal after making the most of his opportunity, and while there are some limitations to his game, teams could do a lot worse in the free-agent market at tight end.