The new league year has produced quite a reshuffling of rosters across the league. With that in mind, NFL Network analyst and nine-year NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew evaluates the recent relocations of seven pass rushers (presented in alphabetical order), examining how each player will fare with his new team in 2022. Who will ball out? Whose production will fall?
Old team: Dallas Cowboys
This was a huge signing for Denver if Gregory can stay healthy and eligible. The 2015 second-round pick has yet to play an entire season, which could play in Denver's favor, as Gregory should have more tread on the tires than most 29-year-old NFL vets. The former Cowboy caused five turnovers due to pressure in 2021, tied for fourth-most in the league, per Next Gen Stats, and notched six sacks, which tied his career-high total for a season. With his speed and knack for getting into the backfield, Gregory should be a game-wrecker opposite Bradley Chubb for the Broncos -- and that's vital, given all of the offensive firepower added within the division.
2022 projection: 10 sacks
Old team: Arizona Cardinals
Last year, the Raiders became the only team in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016) to finish the season with two of the NFL's top four players in QB pressures, with Maxx Crosby leading the category (82) and Yannick Ngakoue ranking third (71). There's a very good possibility Las Vegas repeats that performance in 2022, with Jones taking the place of Ngakoue. The combination of Jones and Crosby, who both signed big-money deals this offseason, will be an absolute nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Jones should elevate a Raiders defense that ranked first in pressure rate last season but struggled to bring the QB down, tying for 20th with just 35 sacks. With 107.5 career sacks, Jones is a sack artist and should help the Raiders' defense get the ball back into Derek Carr's hands.
2022 projection: 12.5 sacks
Old team: Chicago Bears
Brandon Staley is trying to build what he had with the Rams two seasons ago: a ferocious pass rush that allows the second and third levels of the defense to take chances and create turnovers. The Los Angeles defense should take a big step forward this season with a player like Mack in the mix. If he and Joey Bosa can stay healthy, the Bolts could boast the most dominant pass rush in the league. Each has recorded four seasons with double-digit sacks since 2015, with both ranking in the top seven in sacks since 2016 (when Bosa entered the league). Mack should be rejuvenated after playing just seven games last season. With Justin Herbert and Co. lighting up the scoreboard and forcing opponents to play keep up, expect Mack to hit double-digit sacks for the first time since 2018.
2022 projection: 14 sacks
Old team: Los Angeles Rams
The Bills already had one of the most talented and complete rosters in the NFL; adding Miller to the league's top-ranked defense (in scoring, yards and on third down) just might get them where they ultimately want to be. The two-time Super Bowl champion's résumé speaks for itself, and he's showed no signs of slowing down. In his 11th NFL season in 2021, Miller amassed 19 tackles for loss, 17 QB hits, 9.5 sacks and one forced fumble. And in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016), Miller has the second-highest QB pressure rate (15.2) among all defensive players with a minimum of 1,500 pass rushes, behind only Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt (15.4). His presence off the edge will open up one-on-one opportunities for Gregory Rousseau and Ed Oliver. But that's not all: Miller is the type of veteran who'll be a tremendous leader on a team that's trying to make history of its own. Getting a guy who's been to the mountaintop not once, but twice -- and with two different teams -- made this signing a no-brainer for Buffalo.
2022 projection: 12 sacks
Old team: Las Vegas Raiders
Ngakoue has enjoyed success at every stop in his career, evidenced by the fact that he's one of just five players -- joining Aaron Donald, DeMarcus Ware and Hall of Famers Derrick Thomas and Reggie White -- with at least eight sacks in each of his first six NFL seasons, per NFL Research. He rejoins a familiar face in Gus Bradley, who was Ngakoue's head coach in Jacksonville and defensive coordinator in Las Vegas, so we can expect the 27-year-old pass rusher to be just as disruptive in Indy. Add in the fact that he'll benefit from the Colts having an interior pass rush with DeForest Buckner, freeing up Ngakoue wreck shop off the edge. It also helps that he's back in one of the league's weaker divisions.
2022 projection: 15 sacks
Old team: Carolina Panthers
The Eagles' pass rush was able to regularly pressure the quarterback in 2021, but struggled to get home. Reddick is a guy who can substantially boost Philadelphia's efficiency in this area. Coming off back-to-back seasons with 11-plus sacks, Reddick will continue to be a handful off the edge. He should also attract enough attention to free up Brandon Graham, an underrated pass rusher in his own right, and Fletcher Cox. We saw how successful the Rams' pass rush was with Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd, and I believe Philly is following that blueprint.
2022 projection: 13 sacks.
Old team: Green Bay Packers
Smith tweeted the Purple People Eaters' motto during his March visit with the Vikings. Now we could see some kind of 2.0 version, with Smith and Danielle Hunter pushing offensive linemen into the opposing backfield. Smith should be fresh after sitting out almost the entire 2021 regular season with a back injury -- and so should Hunter, having missed 10 games with a torn pectoral muscle. This may be one of the most underrated signings of the offseason, with the NFC North looking pretty wide open following major changes in Green Bay.
2022 projection: 12.5 sacks