Starters: Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin
Depth: James Cowser, Shilique Calhoun
Free agents: None
Mack was the league’s top defender, landing the Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2016. He logged 11.0 sacks last season along with the second most QB hits (26) and forced fumbles (5). His talent and value to this team is unquestioned.
Irvin was a nice complement to Mack on the other side, putting of a league best 6 forced fumbles along with 7.0 sacks. They make for one of the better pass rushing duos in the NFL.
Cowser was an undrafted rookie out of Southern Utah. He impressed in the offseason, eventually finding his way onto the practice squad and was later called up to the active roster.
Calhoun was the team’s third round pick. He struggled mightily as a rookie, with an inability to shed blocks at the point of attack and getting lost in coverage. An utterly disappointing debut season, putting up just 6 combined tackles, 0.5 sack and 3 QB hits.
The stability here comes solely from the Mack and Irvin. Should Aldon Smith be reinstated from his NFL ban in March, the position will be upgraded with three very good edge defenders, all of whom are among the best in the league.