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Ranking the NFL's 5 best pass rushers

Cleveland Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett
Cleveland Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett
Mike Johnson
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 13 Nov 2020, 00:30 IST
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We are 10 weeks into the NFL season and there have been some elite performances along the defensive line.

The league has seen the usual suspects wreak havoc against opposing offensive lines throughout the first half of the year, but we have also seen some new faces emerge among the top players in getting after the quarterback.

While this list may be up for debate around the NFL, let us take a look at the top five pass rushers in the league entering Week 10.


5. Myles Garrett (Cleveland Browns)

Since his 2019 suspension, Myles Garrett has been on a mission to prove himself again among the elite edge rushers in the NFL.

Through Cleveland's eight games, Garrett is currently tied for first in the league in sacks with nine. He ranks top-five in total quarterback combined sacks and pressures with 30 and pressures per game with just under four per contest. Garrett also ranks third in pass-rush win rate (28 percent) according to ESPN Analytics, a statistic that tells us how often a pass-rusher is able to beat his block within 2.5 seconds. 

Garrett is currently on pace to set career highs in sacks and pressures at the midway point, with favorable matchups coming up over the second half of the season against the Texans, Jaguars, Titans, Giants, Jets, and Steelers. All of which rank in the bottom-half of the NFL in pass blocking win rate according to ESPN Analytics.


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4. Joey Bosa (Los Angeles Chargers)

Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa
Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa

A concussion forced Joey Bosa to miss Week 9, but that shouldn’t overshadow the high-level season that Bosa is putting together from a pass-rush standpoint. Bosa is one of only two edge rushers in the NFL currently generating over three pressures per game this season. In total, he has accumulated 4.5 sacks and 24 pressures in seven games for the Chargers and his 24 pressures currently rank inside the top-five among defenders, despite missing one game.

In terms of pass-rush win rate, Bosa currently ranks fifth at his position by beating his block within 2.5 seconds on 26 percent of his rushes. Since entering the NFL in 2016, Bosa has registered double-digit sacks in every season except 2018 where his year was cut short due to injury. He is currently on pace for over ten sacks yet again this season once he is able to return to the field.

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3. Chris Jones (Kansas City Chiefs)

Kansas City Chiefs interior defender Chris Jones
Kansas City Chiefs interior defender Chris Jones

With 32.5 combined sacks and QB pressures this season, Chris Jones has been downright dominant when rushing the passer from his interior defensive line position.

Jones has produced 27 total pressures in eight games and is currently the NFL's only interior defender generating over three pressures per game this season. He is also the only defender with 10 or more knockdowns of the quarterback.

Jones’ game has been overshadowed a bit since entering the league by the dominance of L.A. Rams star Aaron Donald at the position. Jones has registered over five sacks in each season since 2017 with his breakout campaign being in 2018 where he recorded 15.5 sacks and 49 total pressures.

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2. Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams)

Los Angeles Rams interior defender Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams interior defender Aaron Donald

Speaking of Aaron Donald, he comes in at No. 2 on our top-five pass rusher list at the midway point of the 2020 season. There hasn’t been anyone better at getting to the quarterback from the interior than Donald since 2014. He has consistently ranked as Pro Football Focus’ top player in the NFL and has produced eight or more sacks in each season.  

Through eight games, Donald has filled up the stat sheet by leading the league with nine sacks and forcing 22 total pressures, good for 2.75 pressures per game. According to ESPN Analytics, Donald’s 21 percent pass-rush win rate ranks behind only the Atlanta Falcons’ Grady Jarrett at the interior defender position. While his pressure totals have been down somewhat this season by his standards, Donald is still the NFL’s dominating force along the interior defensive line by a wide margin.

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1. TJ Watt (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher TJ Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher TJ Watt

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been the NFL’s top defense this season, especially against the pass, and edge rusher TJ Watt is a major reason why.

As a team, the Steelers have totaled 114 total pressures, 13 more than any other NFL team this season, and 32 sacks. They are also generating a pressure rate of a staggering 36.1 percent of quarterback dropbacks this season and beating their pass blocks in 2.5 seconds or less as team at a rate of 55 percent.

Watt has been flying off the edge all season, registering seven sacks and 34 total pressures in eight games. He is currently the only defender in the NFL with 40 or more combined sacks and pressures at the midway point, and is forcing 4.25 pressures per game, almost a full pressure more than any other pass rusher this season. He also ranks number-one overall among defenders in pass-rush win rate at 31 percent, according to ESPN Analytics.

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Watt is currently well on pace for his third-straight season with 13 or more sacks and has emerged as the NFL’s premier pass rusher at the halfway mark of the 2020 season.

Published 13 Nov 2020, 00:30 IST
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