Cardinals LB Haason Reddick ESPN’s ‘biggest surprise’ at edge rusher

Jan 24, 2021, 7:03 AM
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

There were a number of breakout performances this season in the NFL.

Some predictable, others not.

To get a better overall analysis of the year, ESPN joined forces with Pro Football Focus, compiling the highest graded players of the season.

The players were split up by position into three categories: best overall, top rookie and biggest surprise.

Among the top ranked NFL edge rushers was Arizona Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick, who came in as the position’s biggest surprise with a 72.8 overall grade.

The linebacker saw his best season yet in his fourth year, leading the Cardinals with 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. He was first among NFL edge defenders with six forced fumbles.

Reddick’s 72.8 overall grade is dragged down by how he performed in run defense, but few pass-rushers closed the season hotter than the former off-ball linebacker did. Reddick had 57 career pressures to his name coming into this season and nearly matched that total with 56 pressures in 2020 alone — 13th among all edge defenders. His 93.8 pass-rushing grade over the final four weeks of the season was higher than that of any defender regardless of position, aided by a massive five-sack performance against the Giants in Week 14. There is no better way to go into contract negotiations as a free agent.

Reddick’s 82.6 pass-rushing grade (11th among NFL edge rushers) was balanced out by his run defense mark of 56.7 (64th).

Still, the year was head and shoulders above Reddick’s previous three seasons. The success could be attributed to Reddick’s position switch, playing solely as a pass rusher in 2020 after spending the majority of his career off-ball under different coaches. Before his recent success, the linebacker’s 2018 grade of 60.4 was his best PFF rating in his career.

With the Cardinals declining Reddick’s fifth-year option, the 2017 first-rounder is set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, leaving his future with the team cloudy.

The other edge rushers joining Reddick on PFF’s list are Chicago Bears LB Khalil Mack (best overall) and Washington’s Chase Young (top rookie).

The San Francisco 49ers had the most players on the list among the NFC West teams, with Trent Williams (top overall tackle), Fred Warner (top overall linebacker) and Jason Verrett (biggest surprise at cornerback) making the cut.

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