We’re living in a golden age of edge rushers. It seems like every NFL team has at least one player on the edge who can generate consistent pressure, and the best teams usually have multiple. Athleticism has never been at a higher level at the position, and technique has only improved as well.
If you’re considered a top-20 player at that position, you’re pretty damn good at what you do. Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson put together his tiers of the top-32 edge rushers and placed Cincinnati Bengals’ star Trey Hendrickson at the No. 20 spot.
Here’s Monson’s rationale for putting Hendrickson in the Underrated Veterans tier:
Trey Hendrickson backed up his career year in New Orleans with another one in Cincinnati, justifying the buy-high free agent signing the team made with a player coming off career-highs in grade and sacks. Hendrickson consistently generates pressure and has been good at converting those to sacks.
Turning pressures to sacks has been Hendrickson’s specialty over the past two seasons. He’s notched 27.5 sacks since his final year with the New Orleans Saints in 2020. In his first year with the Bengals in 2021, his pass-rushing productivity score was tied for third among starting edges.
Hendrickson’s pass-rushing prowess is enough to earn him top-20 status, and perhaps his lackluster run defense is why he’s not any higher on the list. Per PFF, he’s only had one season with a run defense grade above 63 (77.3 in 2019). His grade against the run dropped down to 40.9 last year.
Not only do the premier edge defenders rush the passer phenomenally, they are assets in setting the edge and making stops at and behind the line. Hendrickson just isn’t that two-way player.
But no one can argue that defending the run is more important than rushing the passer for an edge player. Hendrickson’s value is solely derived from giving left tackles fits in pass protection and coming up with clutch sacks. It’s why the Bengals are paying him $15 million a year.
Do you think Hendrickson’s spot is justified? Let us know in the comments!