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Pre-Combine NFL Draft rankings: EDGE rushers

Prior to the NFL Combine, we rank the best EDGE defenders in the 2022 NFL Draft

The NFL Scouting Combine begins on March 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Kansas City Chiefs are expected to be paying close attention to EDGE rushers in the 2022 NFL draft, so let’s take a look at the best ones we currently see.

1. Kayvon Thibodeaux - Oregon

Oregon v Washington Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The now-former Oregon Duck has long since been heralded as a premier edge defender. Coming out of high school, ESPN rated him as the top recruit, while 247 Sports ranked him second. Thibodeaux has the instinctual football skills that you find in elite pass rushers. He can win with his first step — but also has the ability to beat offensive linemen with more than just speed. At Oregon, he played in both two and three-point stances — and also dropped into coverage. Leaving Oregon with plenty of accolades and accomplishments, he could very well be the first player to shake the commissioner’s hand on draft night.

2. Aidan Hutchinson - Michigan

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Michigan Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Big Ten produces a lot of pass-rushing experts — and Hutchinson is one of the best in 2022’s class. He led a Wolverines defense that allowed just 17 points per game — but lost in the playoffs to the eventual national champions. Against Georgia, Hutchinson may not have looked like his normal dominant self — but that one game will not lower his draft stock. He should test through the roof in all of the pre-draft drills. He is another prospect who will go early.

3. George Karlaftis - Purdue

Purdue v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Karlaftis is the epitome of a worker. He never quits, giving the same consistent effort in all four quarters of every game. He’s one of the best football players in Indiana — where he also excelled in track, competing in shotput. Karlaftis’ film displays a full tool shed that teams will love. He can attack offensive tackles with a variety of moves that are rarely seen — especially from someone just entering the league.

4. Travon Walker - Georgia

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 10 CFP National Championship Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We will see plenty of Bulldogs defenders be drafted — but Walker is one who could really boost Kansas City’s defensive front. One of the bigger edge defenders in this class, Walker’s 6-foot-5, 275 pound frame will serve him well at the next level. For a player his size, he shows an extraordinary get-off; offensive tackles have a hard time dealing with his combination of quickness and strength. But could use some development: he could add some more moves to his game.

5. Jermaine Johnson - Florida State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Florida State at Florida Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So far, Johnson has been one of the fastest risers in the pre-draft process — and he’s been linked to the Chiefs in a few mock drafts. While Kansas City chose the Seminoles’ Joshua Kaindoh in 2021’s fourth round, the two did not play together; after starting his career at Georgia, Johnson transferred to FSU for the 2021 season. He’s is a scheme-versatile pass rusher. If he is within reach, he might be worth a trade-up.

6. David Ojabo - Michigan

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Michigan Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ojabo is another Wolverine defensive end who will likely be a first-round pick. Exactly where he could be chosen is up for debate. He could go in the top 10 — but with other edge prospects really building their resumes, it may force him to fall on draft night. In addition, there are always teams that will reach for a quarterback — which could push a player like Ojabo to where he’d be available to the Chiefs. Ojabo is a raw but talented kid who is still relatively new to football. While his ceiling is sky-high, it could take a little bit of time for him to get there.

7. Cameron Thomas - San Diego State

NCAA Football: Boise State at San Diego State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A Kansas City pass rusher with his surname would be certain to light some passionate memories in Chiefs Kingdom. Thomas played both inside and outside for the Aztecs. After playing as a 1-tech and 3-tech, he slid out to play on the edge. In his first season there in 2021, he accounted for 20 tackles-for-loss and more than ten sacks. The Chiefs would love to add versatility to their defensive line — and Thomas checks that box in a big way.

8. Kingsley Enagbare - South Carolina

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

One of the longer pass rushers in the draft, Enagbare has been one of the Gamecocks’ more consistent producers, with seven tackles for loss in each of the last three seasons — although he’s never had more than six sacks in a season. Enagbare can get better by improving his techniques to match his raw ability; the right coaching staff could really polish up his game, amplifying his on-field impact. He also could improve as a run defender. There, he has struggled to dissect plays quickly.

9. Logan Hall - Houston

NCAA Football: Houston at Tulane Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

When I first watched Hall, I thought he would thrive more in an odd-man front; he played a lot of defensive tackle in Houston. But after studying more of his film, I believe he could be productive in Steve Spagnuolo’s system. His hand usage — giving him the ability to catch offensive linemen with a powerful punch — makes him dangerous in short areas. With his speed, he could consistently beat interior offensive linemen.

10. Myjai Sanders - Cincinnati

Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Cincinnati v Alabama Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Sanders has been a staple of the Bearcats’ defense since 2019 — and his collegiate career culminated in a CFB playoff appearance for Cincinnati. He relies almost solely on speed and burst to get after the quarterback. He likes to keep blockers at bay with his long arms — but if he allows them to lock on, he has a hard time slipping out. To really make an impact as a pro, he needs to round out his game. But he has a good balance of skills and football intelligence that would make him a valuable draft pick — one who could be groomed into an every-down end.