American football isn't an Olympic sport -- yet. But with the world's best athletes set to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, we thought we'd get in on the fun by holding a medal competition at nine key positions. NFL Media analysts ranked the top three players at each spot, with points assigned accordingly -- three points for each first-place ranking, two for each second-place ranking and one for each third-place ranking. The points were totaled, resulting in final gold-, silver- and bronze-medal finishers. Below, you'll find the results -- and each analyst's individual ballot -- at edge rusher.
The Edge Rusher Podium
Mack developed at an off-the-charts rate in Year 2, collecting 15 sacks. The addition of Bruce Irvin in Oakland should only help him. To truly appreciate how big Houston is and how well he moves for a man of his size, one has to see the Chiefs OLB in person. Miller, who's been a force since arriving in Denver as the second overall pick in 2011, helped guide the Broncos to a title with an unbelievable postseason. The scary thing? He can be even better going forward.
Miller's impact is felt on nearly every snap. He's an elite pass rusher, and that was very evident all through the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Watt is very strong, athletic and explosive, and with his energy, the guy is one of the toughest in the game. Mack has speed and strength on his side, which helped him earn All-Pro nods at two positions.
As much as it would be nice to move Khalil Mack up, Justin Houston has earned a silver nod. Let us not forget the man put up 22 sacks when healthy in 2014. That's how we are going to leave it for now, anyway. Von Miller might let success go to his head. He might take forever to get in uniform with this contract stuff. But any player who plays the way he did in the most important games of his life should win the gold.
Watt's versatility and explosiveness have made him the best defensive player in the league. Mack is still learning the game and has great potential to improve off his 15-sack sophomore season. Miller is arguably the most valuable linebacker in the game, proving his significance in the Broncos' playoff run.
Miller's play set the tone in Super Bowl 50 -- a reminder of how dominant he's been during his NFL career. Matthews takes a back seat to Mack after being asked to play more middle linebacker the past two seasons, but both are great at terrorizing quarterbacks.
Say what you will about Watt's WWE-like persona, but there's no disputing the effectiveness of his workmanlike game. He has dominated the league as a premier pass rusher exhibiting extraordinary strength, power and hand skills. With the freedom to align anywhere on the front to attack the most vulnerable pass protector, he will remain a top sack producer for the next few years.
Watt is -- hands down -- the winner of this category, as everyone else is fighting for silver. Miller has been a disruptive force since he joined the league in 2011 and proved that in last season's playoffs. Mack is devastating to his opponents -- the sky is the limit for this guy.
Derek Carr told me Mack could sack the quarterback 30 times this year. I believe him!
Miller is the best because of one thing: He creates turnovers. Watt is elite and his numbers support that. Bennett is as disruptive as Miller and Watt, and he's been one of the best players on a very good defense. He deserves to be mentioned here.
Well, the hipster in me wanted to make Mack the gold-medal winner, but I just couldn't do it. I wanted to because you know the Raiders would have had my back on Twitter, but there is no shame in the silver here. Watt is the very best at his position. I'd have him and Gronk as the two best players in the game. AB and Brady are also in the mix, but nobody stands up to Watt just yet.
I know it might be a mild upset to have Miller as the bronze winner. But take a look at his entire 2015 season. He was truly great in the Super Bowl and playoffs, while his overall season was ... good. Would you rather have Mack or Miller in 2016? Don't kid yourself.