By: Steven Tauro
May 6, 2020
Even with the NFL being an offensive driven league, the defensive players that have a significant impact on the game are pass rushers. Getting after the quarterback is one of the most successful recipes to disrupt an opposing offense and with offensive specialists being as athletic and agile as they are today, making teams uncomfortable is the goal. These pass rushers are amongst the most dominant in the NFL.
Since 2012 there may not be a dominant pass rusher like Chandler Jones. Having continuous success in both defensive systems he played for, Jones has a total of 96 sacks. A large number of those sacks came last season, when Chandler was near tying Michael Strahan’s All-Time Single Season Sack Record with 19. It’s still a question, why New England was so quick to move on from the pass rusher before the prime of his career, but I bet at this point they don’t regret it. When football resumes Jones will lead the defense for a Cardinals team on the rise in the NFC.
Similar to Chandler Jones, Von Miller has owned the title of dominant pass rusher for almost the past decade. Year in and year out, when quarterbacks are gearing up to play Denver, the first person they study is the 8 time Pro Bowler. Throughout his career Miller has racked up an outstanding 106 sacks, only having 2 years in his career with less than 10. Already a Super Bowl champion, Von is just adding to the stat sheet, building his legacy for the Hall of Fame.
Before all the injury negativity with JJ Watt, lets acknowledge the greatness. The former Walter Peyton Man of the Year is still one of the most dominant players at his position. Having four seasons with 16 or more sacks, and one as recent as 2018, Watt is feared by Offensive Personnel around the league. Being cheated out of the NFL MVP Award not just once, but 3 times, goes to show that the MVP is a Quarterback driven award. There has only been one defensive player in recent time that may be equally as dominant as JJ Watt has been and that’s Aaron Donald.
A beast amongst men, Donald's production as an interior defender has been something that we've never seen before. In just his first 5 season in the NFL Aaron already has 72 career sacks, never slipping below 8 in a season. After a disappointing team loss to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, the Rams now have a clean sweep throughout the roster. The middle of last season addition of Jalem Ramsey gives LA two of the most dominant players at their position in a revamped defense. The best of Aaron Donald may have yet to come, being just 29 years old.
Drafted by the Chargers in 2016, Joey Bosa is a sack machine. In just 4 years, Joey has 40 total sacks averaging 10 a year for his career so far. Being lined up next to Melvin Ingram certainly helps, who just missed this list, but Bosa’s dominance can’t go unnoticed. Coming out of college, Bosa was rumored to have true potential in the NFL, and it has panned out to this point. We’ll see if younger brother Nick Bosa and the 2020 2nd overall pick, Chase Young, can follow in the same footsteps from Ohio State.
TJ Watt has made a splash early in his career just like his older brother. Although TJ Watt has played only three seasons, he has a total of 34.5 sacks averaging over 11 a season. Last year steps were made as a whole defensive unit in Pittsburg, establishing a young core of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Devin Bush, with Watt. Veterans Joe Hayden, Bud Dupree, and Cameron Heyward help make that defense a solid unit as a whole. The scary part about this is that we've still yet to see TJ’s most dominant play.
The former first round pick did not have immediate success as a pass rusher in the NFL, but Cameron Jordan is now one of the most consistent members of the Saints team. Having a career total of 87 sacks, with 40.5 of those coming in the past 3 seasons, Jordan is a dominant force. This year the New Orleans Saints are not being handed the division, having to play the Tom Brady led Buccaneers twice a year. Jordan and Marcus Davenport, another former first round pick, are really going to have to play their best football this year.
Notables: Frank Clark, Myles Garrett, Khalil Mack, DeMarcus Lawrence, Yannick Ngakoue, Melvin Ingram
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