Ranking the Top 10 NFL Pass Rushers Through Week 7
The Top 10 Pass Rushers in the NFL
In a pass-happy NFL dominated by high-flying offenses and über-productive quarterbacks, the value of a defender capable of consistently collapsing the pocket has skyrocketed. Only turnovers can swing momentum quicker than a big sack.
Hence, the recent trend of pass-rushing defenders going early in the NFL Draft and bringing in big bucks on the open market. Now more than ever, teams are in desperate need of defensive ends or outside linebackers who can frequently put quarterbacks on the turf. Even defensive tackles and inside linebackers who can create pressure up the middle have become hot commodities.
This demand has spawned a supply of elite edge rushers capable of racking up ridiculous amounts of sacks in a short amount of time. For the last few seasons, some of the NFL’s elite have even flirted with breaking Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 21.5. Early every year, it seems as though the record will surely fall.
So who are the best sack artists in the NFL this season?
There were plenty of candidates for this list, from rookie wonders to veterans who have been racking up sacks for close to a decade. Many of these names you will recognize, while there might be a few that seem shocking. Rest assured, they all deserve to be ranked among the top 10 when it comes to getting after the quarterback.
Here’s a look at the top 10 pass rushers in the NFL right now and why they deserve to be in this class of elite quarterback hunters.
10. Elvis Dumervil, OLB, Baltimore Ravens
Some may wonder why Dumervil is on this list and – spoiler alert – Terrell Suggs isn’t, but there’s a good reason. Despite less pass-rush snaps, Dumervil has been just as productive with five sacks, six hits and 13 hurries. Suggs likely would have been No. 11 on this list if there was one, but Dumervil gets the nod.
9. NaVorro Bowman, ILB, San Francisco 49ers
While inside linebackers typically aren’t known for their pass-rush abilities, Bowman has stood out above the rest this season for his knack for pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Bowman has totaled 13 pressures in only 33 pass rush opportunities and is helping the 49ers’ defense get back on track.
8. Jason Hatcher, DT, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys defense has been a mess this season, but Hatcher has been one of the lone bright spots. With DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff both hurt, Hatcher has been a constant throne in opposing quarterbacks’ sides, tallying 23 total pressures including five sacks – already a career high through six games.
7. Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints
Originally drafted into a 4-3 defense, Jordan always seemed out of place. Now that the Saints have made the switch to the 3-4, Jordan is in his natural position and is finally unleashing his massive potential. His five sacks and 34 total pressures lead all 3-4 defensive ends through six weeks.
6. Robert Mathis, OLB, Indianapolis Colts
Currently tied for the league lead in sacks, Mathis has been dominant through the first six games of the 2013 season. With Dwight Freeney no longer in town, Mathis has stolen the spotlight and is rapidly proving just how good he can be. We’ll see if he can keep this record-breaking pace moving forward.
5. Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs
The first half of the Chiefs’ dominant pass rush, Houston is currently tied with Mathis at the top of the NFL sack list. All season long, he’s been taking advantage of unprepared blockers and has quarterbacks running for their lives. The Chiefs had no idea they’d get so lucky with this former third-round pick.
4. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions
There are plenty of people who can’t stand Suh because of his dirty playing style, but there’s no denying that he’s a top-tier pass rusher. With elite power and block breaking abilities, Suh throws around linemen like rag dolls and has been the most dominant defensive tackle of the 2013 campaign so far.
3. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Arguably the most all-around dominant defender in the NFL, Watt has spent much of the 2013 campaign in opposing offenses’ backfields. Apart from a letdown in Week 6, Watt has been his normal elite self and has asserted himself as one of the lone bright spots on a declining Texans team.
2. Tamba Hali, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs
The other half of the Chiefs’ dominant pass rush, Hali has spent all season terrorizing opposing quarterbacks. While he doesn’t have as many sacks as Houston, his 40 hurries are by far the most in the NFL. Hali is considered one of the league’s best at getting to the quarterback, and continues to prove why.
1. Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis Rams
There was so much potential in Quinn coming out of college, and the Rams seem to have finally found the key to unlock it. Since the season kicked off, Quinn has been absolutely lights-out as a pass rusher, giving opposing offensive coordinators nightmares. Meet the prototypical 4-3 pass rushing defensive end.