A quality and consistent pass rush is essential to a successful defense and that’s something you could always count on with the best pass rushers of all-time. They knew how to get after the quarterback, apply constant pressure, get sacks frequently, and force the offense into mistakes.
Some pass rushers are most effective in a 4-3 defense, while others are more effective in a 3-4 defense. Some pass rushers are linebackers, while others play on the defensive line. While pass rushers come in different shapes and sizes, they all know how to terrorize a quarterback.
With quarterbacks throwing the ball more frequently in today’s NFL, pass rushers are more valuable than ever before — but don’t let that fool you. Some of the meanest, scariest, and most talented pass rushers are retired and currently in — or on their way to — the Hall of Fame.
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Who Are the Best Pass Rushers of All-Time?
An effective pass rush does a lot for a football team. It makes the quarterback think twice at the line of scrimmage, rushes the quarterback into bad decisions, and opens the door to a potential sack — or even better, a turnover. When done correctly, pass rushing is a game changer.
The art of the pass rush is something many players have tried to conquer, but only a few have mastered it enough to be labeled as the best pass rushers of all-time. These pass rushers were a quarterback’s worst nightmare on every play — both before the snap and during the play.
As we make our way through our list of the best pass rushers of all-time, keep in mind that the NFL didn’t make sacks an official defensive stat until 1982 — though Pro Football Reference has unofficial sack numbers from 1960-1982, which gives us over 60 years of data to look at.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at who the best pass rushers of all-time are in the NFL.
25. Alan Page
Years: 1967-1981 (15 seasons)
Teams: Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings
Career Stats: 218 games, 215 games started, 148.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 23 fumble recoveries, 3 safeties, 3 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1988
Alan Page was drafted 15th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in 1967 and became a mainstay on the team’s defensive line, which was famously known as the Purple People Eaters. His 148.5 sacks ranks 8th all-time (unofficially) and he’s a former MVP and Defensive POY winner.
24. John Abraham
Years: 2000-2014 (15 seasons)
Teams: New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals
Career Stats: 192 games, 175 games started, 560 tackles, 148 tackles for loss, 133.5 sacks, 47 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 1 safety, 1 defensive touchdown
Hall of Fame: not yet, but eventually
John Abraham was drafted 13th overall by the New York Jets in 2000 and became a regular starter in 2001. His best season came in 2008 when he recorded a career-high 16.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. Abraham’s 133.5 career sacks currently ranks 18th all-time (unofficially).
23. Terrell Suggs
Years: 2003-2019 (17 seasons)
Teams: Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs
Career Stats: 244 games, 226 games started, 895 tackles, 202 tackles for loss, 139.0 sacks, 37 forced fumbles, 15 fumble recoveries, 7 interceptions, 1 safety, 3 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Too soon, but eventually
Terrell Suggs was drafted 10th overall by the Baltimore Ravens in 2003 and he made it worth their while, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year that season. He would go on to help the Ravens win two Super Bowls and was even named Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.
22. Von Miller
Years: 2011-present (10 seasons)
Teams: Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams
Career Stats: 142 games, 142 games started, 509 tackles, 142 tackles for loss, 110.5 sacks, 26 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 2 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Still playing, but when retired
In the same season Suggs won Defensive POY, Von Miller burst onto the scene as the Defensive ROY. Miller was drafted second overall by the Denver Broncos and has recorded more than 10 sacks in seven different seasons. His 110.5 sacks unofficially ranks 36th all-time.
21. J.J. Watt
Years: 2011-present (11 seasons)
Teams: Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals
Career Stats: 135 games, 135 games started, 547 tackles, 177 tackles for loss, 102.0 sacks, 26 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 1 safety, 3 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Still playing, but when retired
J.J. Watt was drafted nine spots behind Von Miller in the 2011 draft and while he didn’t have the rookie year that Miller had, Watt won Defensive POY the following season — something he has done three times in his career. As of right now, Watt’s 102.0 career sacks ranks 51st all-time.
20. Jason Taylor
Years: 1997-2011 (15 seasons)
Teams: Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Washington Redskins
Career Stats: 233 games, 199 games started, 788 tackles, 151 tackles for loss, 139.5 sacks, 46 forced fumbles, 29 fumble recoveries, 8 interceptions, 3 safeties, 9 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2017
Jason Taylor was a third round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins in the 1997 draft and spent a majority of his 15-year career with the team. He’s a six-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and one-time Defensive Player of the Year (2006). Taylor’s 139.5 career sacks ranks 11th all-time.
19. Mark Gastineau
Years: 1979-1988 (10 seasons)
Teams: New York Jets
Career Stats: 137 games, 107 games started, 107.5 sacks, 9 fumble recoveries, 2 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: maybe someday
Mark Gastineau was drafted by the New York Jets in the second round of the 1979 draft. He’s one of just a few players to record more than 20.0 sacks in multiple seasons — doing so in 1981 and 1984 (as well as 19.0 sacks in 1983). His 107.5 sacks unofficially ranks 38th all-time.
18. Simeon Rice
Years: 1996-2007 (12 seasons)
Teams: Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers,Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos
Career Stats: 174 games, 161 games started, 483 tackles, 93 tackles for loss, 122.0 sacks, 28 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries, 5 interceptions, 1 safety
Hall of Fame: Not yet, but should be
Simeon Rice was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the third overall pick in 1996. He won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in his first season with 12.5 sacks and would record more than 10.0 sacks in eight different seasons. His 122.0 career sacks ranks 29th all-time.
17. Leslie O’Neal
Years: 1986-1999 (13 seasons)
Teams: San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams
Career Stats: 196 games, 178 games started, 767 tackles, 132.5 sacks, 21 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 3 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Not yet, but should be
Leslie O’Neal was the San Diego Chargers’ eighth overall pick in 1986, winning Defensive ROY that same season. He recorded double-digit sacks in eight different seasons, including a career-high 17.0 sacks in the 1992 season. His 132.5 career sacks ranks 20th all-time.
16. Jack Youngblood
Years: 1971-1984 (14 seasons)
Teams: Los Angeles Rams
Career Stats: 202 games, 187 games started, 151.5 sacks, 10 fumble recoveries, 2 safeties
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2001
Jack Youngblood was drafted 20th overall by the Los Angeles Rams in 1971 and became a full-time starter in 1973. He would go on to record more than 14.5 sacks in the next four seasons and a career-high 18.0 sacks in 1979. His 151.5 sacks unofficially ranks sixth all-time.
15. Jared Allen
Years: 2004-2015 (12 seasons)
Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers
Career Stats: 187 games, 181 games started, 648 tackles, 171 tackles for loss, 136.0 sacks, 32 forced fumbles, 19 fumble recoveries, 6 interceptions, 4 safeties, 2 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Not yet, but eventually
Despite being drafted in the fourth round of the 2004 draft, Jared Allen started 10 games his rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings. After posting 27.5 sacks in his first three seasons, he posted more than 11.0 sacks in seven straight seasons, including a career-high 22.0 in 2011.
14. John Randle
Years: 1990-2003 (14 seasons)
Teams: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks
Career Stats: 219 games, 185 games started, 556 tackles, 40 tackles for loss (since 1999), 137.5 sacks, 29 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 1 defensive touchdown
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2010
John Randle went undrafted in 1990 and many coaches believed he was too small for his position, but he proved everyone wrong after being picked up by the Minnesota Vikings. He posted double-digit sacks in eight straight seasons and his 137.5 sacks ranks 14th all-time.
13. Chris Doleman
Years: 1985-1999 (15 seasons)
Teams: Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons
Career Stats: 232 games, 213 games started, 975 tackles, 150.5 sacks, 44 forced fumbles, 24 fumble recoveries, 8 interceptions, 2 safeties, 3 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2012
Speaking of the Minnesota Vikings, they drafted Chris Doleman fourth overall in 1985. He finally made a name for himself in his third season and posted a career-high 21.0 sacks in his fifth. He had more than 11.0 sacks in eight seasons and his 150.5 sacks ranks seventh all-time.
12. Julius Peppers
Years: 2002-2018 (17 seasons)
Teams: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers
Career Stats: 266 games, 240 games started, 719 tackles, 175 tackles for loss, 159.5 sacks, 52 forced fumbles, 21 fumble recoveries, 11 interceptions, 6 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Not yet, but eventually
The Carolina Panthers had high hopes for Julius Peppers after drafting him second overall in 2002. He would go on to win Defensive ROY in 2002 with 12.0 sacks and posted more than 10.5 sacks in 10 different seasons. His 159.5 career sacks currently ranks fifth all-time.
11. DeMarcus Ware
Years: 2005-2016 (12 seasons)
Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos
Career Stats: 178 games, 173 games started, 657 tackles, 171 tackles for loss, 138.5 sacks, 35 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 3 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Not yet, but eventually
The Dallas Cowboys drafted DeMarcus Ware with the 11th overall pick in 2005. He recorded more than 10.0 sacks in eight of his first 10 seasons (seven straight), including 20.0 sacks in 2008 and 19.5 sacks in 2011. His 138.5 career sacks currently ranks 13th all-time.
10. Richard Dent
Years: 1983-1997 (15 seasons)
Teams: Chicago bears, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers
Career Stats: 203 games, 150 games started, 677 tackles, 137.5 sacks, 37 forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries, 8 interceptions, 1 safety, 2 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2011
Richard Dent was an eighth round draft choice by the Chicago Bears in 1983, but he will go down as one of their best defensive lineman ever. He posted a career-high 17.5 sacks in just his second season and his 137.5 career sacks ranks 14th all-time (tied with John Randle).
9. Doug Atkins
Years: 1953-1969 (17 seasons)
Teams: Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns
Career Stats: 205 games, 176 games started, 94.5 sacks (since 1960), 11 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 1 safety
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1982
Doug Atkins was the Cleveland Browns’ 11th overall draft pick in 1953, but he would go on to play a majority of his career with the Chicago Bears — where he won two NFL Championships. He only has 94.5 listed career sacks, but that’s not including the first seven years of his career.
8. Gino Marchetti
Years: 1952-1966 (14 seasons)
Teams: Baltimore Colts, Dallas Texans
Career Stats: 161 games, 151 games started, 56.0 sacks (since 1960), 13 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 1 safety, 2 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1972
The Dallas Texans drafted Gino Marchetti in the second round of the 1952 draft, but he only lasted one year with the team before moving to Baltimore. His 56.0 sacks doesn’t include the first eight years of his career, but he posted more than 11.0 sacks in four of his last six seasons.
7. Derrick Thomas
Years: 1989-1999 (11 seasons)
Teams: Kansas City Chiefs
Career Stats: 169 games, 157 games started, 641 tackles, 126.5 sacks, 41 forced fumbles, 19 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 3 safeties, 4 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2009
Derrick Thomas was drafted fourth overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1989 draft and finished his career with 126.5 sacks, despite only playing 11 seasons. He won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1989 and posted a career-high 20.0 sacks the following season.
6. Michael Strahan
Years: 1993-2007 (15 seasons)
Teams: New York Giants
Career Stats: 216 games, 205 games started, 854 tackles, 131 tackles for loss (since 1999), 141.5 sacks, 24 forced fumbles, 15 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions, 1 safety, 3 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2014
The New York Giants got more than they bargained for after drafting Michael Strahan in the second round in 1993. After only posting just 18.0 sacks in his first four seasons, he posted more than 10.0 sacks in six of his next 11 seasons — including a record 22.5 sacks in 2001.
5. Kevin Greene
Years: 1985-1999 (15 seasons)
Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers
Career Stats: 228 games, 176 games started, 734 tackles, 160.0 sacks, 23 forced fumbles, 26 fumble recoveries, 5 interceptions, 3 safeties, 3 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2016
Kevin Greene was a fifth round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1985. After posting just 13.5 sacks in his first three seasons, he would record more than 10.0 sacks in 10 of his next 12 seasons. His 160.0 career sacks ranks fourth all-time as he terrorized QBs from 1988-1999.
4. Deacon Jones
Years: 1961-1974 (14 seasons)
Teams: Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins
Career Stats: 191 games, 168 games started, 173.5 sacks, 15 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 2 safeties
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1980
The Los Angeles Rams drafted Deacon Jones in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL Draft. After a decent first three years, he really turned it up a notch from 1964-1970. He posted more than 21.5 sacks in three seasons and 19.0 sacks in 1965. His 173.5 sacks ranks third all-time.
3. Reggie White
Years: 1985-2000 (15 seasons)
Teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers
Career Stats: 232 games, 228 games started, 1,111 tackles, 198.0 sacks, 33 forced fumbles, 20 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 2 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2006
Reggie White was drafted fourth overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1984. Over the next 14 seasons, White would record more than 11.0 sacks in all but two years, including 57.0 sacks over a three-year period from 1986-1988. His 198.0 career sacks ranks second all-time.
2. Bruce Smith
Years: 1985-2003 (19 seasons)
Teams: Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins
Career Stats: 279 games, 267 games started, 1,224 tackles, 200.0 sacks, 43 forced fumbles, 15 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 2 safeties, 1 defensive touchdown
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2009
Bruce Smith was a mainstay on the Buffalo Bills’ defensive line after being drafted first overall in 1985. He was a big reason why the team went to four-straight Super Bowls and recorded more than 10.0 sacks in 13 different seasons. His 200.0 career sacks is a current NFL record.
1. Lawrence Taylor
Years: 1981-1993 (13 seasons)
Teams: New York Giants
Career Stats: 184 games, 180 games started, 142.0 sacks, 11 fumble recoveries, 9 interceptions, 2 defensive touchdowns
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1999
Lawrence Taylor will go down as one of the best pass rushers of all-time. He was drafted by the New York Giants second overall in 1981. He won Defensive ROY once, Defensive POY three times, MVP once, and two Super Bowls in his career. He posted a career-high 20.5 sacks in 1986.
Who Are the Best Pass Rushers in the NFL Right Now?
NFL fans have witnessed quite a few pass rushers display their talent and skill throughout the years. Some of them are still playing, some of them are in the Hall of Fame, and some are still waiting for that gold jacket. Either way, they’ve helped pave the way for pass rushers today.
With NFL offenses throwing the ball more frequently than ever before, a quality pass rush is crucial to a coach’s weekly gameplan. With that said, some defensive stars in the NFL today are separating themselves from the rest of the pack with their incredible pass rushing abilities.
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Some of those players include Myles Garrett, Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Khalil Mack, Chase Young, Danielle Hunter, Shaquil Barrett, Cameron Jordan, Chris Jones, Frank Clark, and Chandler Jones — as well as Von Miller and J.J. Watt, who were mentioned above.
NFL Top Tens: Comparing the 10 Best NFL QBs With the 10 Best NFL Pass Rushers
There’s nothing more exciting than watching a couple of NFL top tens square off against each other — especially when you’re talking about a duel between a quarterback and pass rusher. It’s often one of the most talked about matchups in football and something many can’t wait to see.
You never know what you’re going to get when two NFL top tens square off against one another. Sometimes it ends in a stalemate and sometimes one player gets the best of the other. Either way, it contributes to an exciting matchup — which is what we all want to see on football Sunday.
If you’re a fan that loves to watch a quality battle between quarterback and pass rusher, there are certain matchups you won’t want to miss. This is especially true when NFL top tens at each position are set to go against one another — so let’s rank out the top ten players at each position!
NFL Top Tens: The 10 Best NFL Quarterbacks
Quarterbacks receive all the praise when things are going right, but all the criticism when things aren’t. They’re expected to lead by example, produce consistently, execute when it matters most, and represent the city they play for. They’re arguably the most important player in football.
As we enter the second half of the 2021-22 season, we take notice of the quarterbacks that have stood out above the rest for their spectacular and consistent play under center. Before we begin our NFL top tens at the position, let’s first list out some of our favorite honorable mentions.
Honorable Mentions: Derek Carr, Lamar Jackson, Matt Ryan, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz, Ryan Tannehill, Mac Jones, Russell Wilson
10. Kirk Cousins
Team: Minnesota Vikings
2021 Stats: 8 games, 3-5 record, 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 68.2% completion percentage
Career Stats: 117 games, 54-56-2 record, 30,512 yards, 206 touchdowns, 86 interceptions, 67.1% completion percentage
Kirk Cousins has been one of the most consistent and efficient quarterbacks in the league this season. He has the least amount of interceptions among quarterbacks with more than 10 touchdowns, recording an impressive 16 touchdowns and 2 interceptions through 8 games.
He started the season with 8 touchdowns and 0 interceptions after the first three games, but hit a small bump in the road during Weeks 4 and 5 where he recorded just 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. In the three games since, he has recorded 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.
9. Dak Prescott
Team: Dallas Cowboys
2021 Stats: 7 games, 5-2 record, 2,045 yards, 18 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 69.4% completion percentage
Career Stats: 76 games, 47-29 record, 19,679 yards, 124 touchdowns, 45 interceptions, 66.4% completion percentage
Dak Prescott has continued where he left off last year before his season-ending injury. He’s scoring at an impressive rate, he’s averaging over 290 yards per game, he already has two game-winning drives, and even has a fourth quarter comeback under his belt this season.
His 18 passing touchdowns ranks sixth among quarterbacks and his 2,045 passing yards ranks 17th — not bad for a player that missed Week 8 due to an injury. He has recorded 3 or more touchdowns in five of his seven games this season, including four touchdowns in Week 4.
8. Justin Herbert
Team: Los Angeles Chargers
2021 Stats: 8 games, 5-3 record, 2,350 yards, 18 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 66.1% completion percentage
Career Stats: 23 games, 11-12 record, 6,686 yards, 49 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 66.4% completion percentage
Justin Herbert has emerged as one of the most exciting and explosive young quarterbacks in the entire league. He has picked up where he left off after an impressive rookie season last year — finishing with 4,336 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 15 games started.
His 18 passing touchdowns ranks fifth among quarterbacks and his 2,350 passing yards ranks sixth in the league. In his eight games played, he has four fourth-quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives. He gets the job done when it matters the most and he does it consistently.
7. Joe Burrow
Team: Cincinnati Bengals
2021 Stats: 9 games, 5-4 record, 2,497 yards, 20 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 68.2% completion percentage
Career Stats: 19 games, 7-11-1 record, 5,185 yards, 33 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 66.5% completion percentage
Joe Burrow had his rookie season cut short last year after suffering a torn ACL in Week 11. He seemed to be adjusting to the NFL, but the injury certainly put a halt to his development. The good news is he has come out swinging during the 2021-22 season and looks better than ever.
Burrow’s 20 touchdowns through 9 games ranks fourth in the NFL and is already seven more than he had in 10 games last season. His 2,497 yards ranks fifth among quarterbacks and while he throws a lot of interceptions, he has recorded at least two touchdowns in all but one game.
6. Patrick Mahomes
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
2021 Stats: 9 games, 5-4 record, 2,534 yards, 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 65.2% completion percentage
Career Stats: 55 games, 43-12 record, 16,686 yards, 134 touchdowns, 34 interceptions, 65.9% completion percentage
Patrick Mahomes isn’t having the type of season you would expect out of the superstar and despite being in a slump right now, the former MVP still ranks in the NFL top tens at QB. He’ll eventually get out of his slump and likely move up the list by the end of the regular season.
Mahomes started the year with a three-touchdown, zero-interception performance in Week 1 and while he has thrown the fourth-most yards and third-most touchdowns, he has also thrown 10 interceptions in 9 games. For reference, he threw 11 interceptions the past two seasons.
5. Josh Allen
Team: Buffalo Bills
2021 Stats: 8 games, 5-3 record, 2,236 yards, 17 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 65.5% completion percentage
Career Stats: 52 games, 33-18 record, 11,943 yards, 84 touchdowns, 36 interceptions, 62.5% completion percentage
The Buffalo Bills knew Josh Allen would be a keystone player for their franchise when they drafted him seventh overall in 2018. While they knew what they had, the NFL didn’t recognize it until last season when he exploded for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
Although he hasn’t quite been as explosive this season, he’s still on-pace for similar numbers and is in the running for Most Valuable Player. If he can get some help from his running backs, Allen’s passing stats will only get better as the season continues — so watch out, pass rushers!
4. Kyler Murray
Team: Arizona Cardinals
2021 Stats: 8 games, 7-1 record, 2,276 yards, 17 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 72.7% completion percentage
Career Stats: 40 games, 20-19-1 record, 9,969 yards, 63 touchdowns, 31 interceptions, 67.1% completion percentage
Kyler Murray is on-pace to shatter his current career-highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns this season. He has been one of the most consistent and dangerous quarterbacks in the league, which is why his team has won seven of the eight games he has played in.
He ranks seventh in the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns, which is incredible considering he missed Week 9 with an ankle injury. With the talent he has at wide receiver, Murray will go right back to tearing opposing defenses up once he recovers from his injury.
3. Aaron Rodgers
Team: Green Bay Packers
2021 Stats: 8 games, 7-1 record, 1,894 yards, 17 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 67.1% completion percentage
Career Stats: 205 games, 133-64-1 record, 53,139 yards, 429 touchdowns, 92 interceptions, 65.1% completion percentage
Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever suit up, so it’s no surprise he finds himself in the NFL top tens at quarterback. There was doubt regarding his status during the offseason and training camp, but he’s playing as well as he ever has with the Packers.
He might rank just 24th in passing yards and 10th in passing touchdowns, but has only thrown three interceptions and even missed Week 9 due to COVI
D-19 restrictions. His team is 7-1 with him as starter this season and he has thrown two or more touchdowns in seven-straight games.
2. Matthew Stafford
Team: Los Angeles Rams
2021 Stats: 9 games, 7-2 record, 2,771 yards, 23 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 68.2% completion percentage
Career Stats: 174 games, 81-92-1 record, 47,880 yards, 305 touchdowns, 150 interceptions, 62.9% completion percentage
Matthew Stafford is currently playing his first season with the Los Angeles Rams after being traded from the Detroit Lions over the offseason. It was a surprising trade that he’s benefiting greatly from as he’s having one of the best seasons of his illustrious 13-year career in the NFL.
He currently leads the league with 2,771 passing yards and is on-pace for well over 5,000 yards by the end of the season. He also ranks second in passing touchdowns with 23 and has only thrown six interceptions — proving to be both productive and efficient with his new team in LA.
1. Tom Brady
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2021 Stats: 8 games, 6-2 record, 2,650 yards, 25 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 67.3% completion percentage
Career Stats: 309 games, 236-71 record, 81,854 yards, 606 touchdowns, 196 interceptions, 64.1% completion percentage
It’s hard not to mention Tom Brady whenever you talk about the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s been among the best every single year for the past 21 seasons and still ranks atop our list of NFL top tens at the age of 44. It shouldn’t surprise us anymore, but for some reason it does.
Brady’s 2,650 passing yards ranks second in the league and he leads all passers with 25 passing touchdowns — all while only throwing five interceptions. He has thrown four or more touchdowns in five games this season, including five touchdowns in Weeks 2 and 5.
NFL Top Tens: The 10 Best NFL Pass Rushers
A good quarterback can pick apart a defense, but a good pass rusher can minimize the amount of time the quarterback has to execute. The best pass rushers not only rush the quarterback, but bring the play to an end via a sack or turnover. They’re a quarterback’s worst nightmare.
That’s what makes it so exciting when a top-ten pass rusher goes head-to-head with one of the NFL top tens at quarterback. They know how to manipulate the quarterback’s offensive line and understand the quarterback’s tendencies, which helps the pass rusher do what he does best.
Honorable Mentions: Leonard Floyd, Jonathan Greenard, Robert Quinn, Jonathan Allen, Chandler Jones, Aaron Donald, Chase Young, Yannick Ngakoue, Khalil Mack
10. Maxx Crosby
Team: Las Vegas Raiders
2021 Stats: 8 games, 21 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, 19 quarterback hits, 2 passes defensed
Career Stats: 40 games, 107 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 22.0 sacks, 46 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 7 passes defensed
Not many pass rushers can pressure the quarterback like Maxx Crosby. His 19 quarterback hits ranks third in the league and he has recorded five quarterback hits in three separate games. He had a two-sack performance in Week 1 and a three-sack performance in Week 6.
Crosby is known for his constant pressure, which is exactly what you want out of a defensive end. Even if he doesn’t get the sack, he still gets a hit on the quarterback to keep him honest throughout the game. Expect Crosby to continue bringing the pressure as the season rolls on.
9. Jonathan Allen
Team: Washington Football Team
2021 Stats: 8 games, 29 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, 19 quarterback hits
Career Stats: 60 games, 231 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 23.0 sacks, 64 quarterback hits, 1 safety, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 pass defensed
Speaking of players that know how to hit the quarterback, Jonathan Allen is having a similar season to Crosby in many ways. While Allen doesn’t boast a lot of sacks, he currently ranks second in the league with 19 quarterback hits — including at least two in all but one game.
Allen started the season with three sacks through the first two games, but failed to record a sack over the next four games. He recorded another three sacks in Weeks 7 and 8 before heading into the bye week. He’s been a consistent pass rusher this year and that won’t change.
8. Nick Bosa
Team: San Francisco 49ers
2021 Stats: 8 games, 30 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles
Career Stats: 26 games, 83 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 16.0 sacks, 43 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 passes defensed
Nick Bosa is having an extremely productive season after missing most of last year to a torn ACL. Through eight games, he has recorded at least one sack in five of them and at least two quarterback hits in all but one of them. He also has 12 tackles for loss, which leads the NFL.
At this rate, Bosa will post career-highs in sacks, tackles, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits — in addition to already posting a career-high in forced fumbles with two. If he can stay healthy, he’ll continue to rise up this list and could eventually make his way into the coveted top-five.
7. Haason Reddick
Team: Carolina Panthers
2021 Stats: 9 games, 41 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Career Stats: 73 games, 296 tackles, 45 tackles for loss, 28.5 sacks, 44 quarterback hits, 10 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 15 passes defensed
Haason Reddick had a breakout season last year with the Arizona Cardinals and is continuing that success into his fifth year in the league. It’s his first season with the Carolina Panthers and things are going well thus far, to say the least. In fact, things couldn’t really be going any better.
Reddick not only has 12 quarterback hits to his name this season, but he leads the league in tackles for loss with 12 and ranks sixth in the league with 8.5 sacks. He has recorded at least one sack in six of his nine games and has a tackle for loss in each of the past five games.
6. Trey Hendrickson
Team: Cincinnati Bengals
2021 Stats: 9 games, 20 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, 1 forced fumble
Career Stats: 54 games, 85 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 28.5 sacks, 57 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles, 3 passes defensed
Trey Hendrickson is another pass rusher that had a breakout 2020 campaign and is seeing continued success with a new team during the 2021 season. After recording a career-high 13.5 sacks with the Saints in 2020, Hendrickson is currently on-pace for over 15 sacks this season.
Hendrickson ranks seventh in the league in sacks with 8.5 and has recorded at least one sack in seven of nine games played, including five consecutive games. He has also recorded at least one quarterback hit in all but one game and ranks 12th in the league with 14 quarterback hits.
5. Markus Golden
Team: Arizona Cardinals
2021 Stats: 9 games, 29 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, 13 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 pass defensed
Career Stats: 87 games, 253 tackles, 51 tackles for loss, 42.5 sacks, 102 quarterback hits, 11 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 1 defensive touchdown
Markus Golden found his way back to the Arizona Cardinals last season and he’s rewarding them with a spectacular season thus far in 2021 — one that could be the best of his career. He’s on-pace to set career-highs in sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback hits, and forced fumbles.
His 9.0 sacks this season currently ranks fifth in the NFL and his 13 quarterback hits ranks 15th. He also leads the league in forced fumbles with four, just one away from a career-high. If he can continue this success all the way through, he could finish with close to 20.0 sacks.
4. Matthew Judon
Team: New England Patriots
2021 Stats: 9 games, 36 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 1 fumble recovery
Career Stats: 85 games, 272 tackles, 64 tackles for loss, 43.5 sacks, 119 quarterback hits, 1 safety, 7 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 10 passes defensed
Matthew Judon has recorded at least one quarterback hit in all but one game this season, at least one tackle for loss in all but two games, and at least one sack in all but three games. He has been one of the most consistent pass rushers in the league in his first year with the Patriots.
Judon’s 9.0 sacks currently ranks fourth in the league, his 10 tackles for loss ranks fifth, and his 16 quarterback hits ranks eighth. He fills in the gaps well, explodes to the quarterback often, and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. We’ll see if he continues his hot streak.
3. Harold Landry III
Team: Tennessee Titans
2021 Stats: 9 games, 47 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, 1 forced fumble
Career Stats: 56 games, 228 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, 28.0 sacks, 62 quarterback hits, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 8 passes defensed
Harold Landry III has posted at least 0.5 sacks in all but one game, at least one tackle for loss in all but three games, and at least one quarterback hit in all but one game. His season-highs are 2.0 sacks (Weeks 5 and 6), 3 tackles for loss (Week 4), and 5 quarterback hits (Week 3).
He currently ranks fourth in the league in sacks with 9.0 through nine games, fifth in quarterback hits with 18, and seventh in tackles for loss with nine. He has already posted career-highs in sacks and quarterback hits, but will do so in tackles and tackles for loss by season’s end.
2. T.J. Watt
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
2021 Stats: 7 games, 34 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 passes defensed
Career Stats: 69 games, 264 tackles, 70 tackles for loss, 61.0 sacks, 129 quarterback hits, 20 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions, 29 passes defensed
T.J. Watt has been a force in this league ever since the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in 2017. He has increased his sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits each year since and is on-pace to do it again this season. There’s no doubt he deserves to be in the NFL top tens.
He knows how to fill up a stat sheet and does everything you need an outside linebacker to do. He’s versatile, intelligent, powerful, quick, and makes good decisions in the heat of the moment. That’s why he currently ranks second in the league with 11.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
1. Myles Garrett
Team: Cleveland Browns
2021 Stats: 9 games, 33 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 12.0 sacks, 23 quarterback hits, 1 pass defensed
Career Stats: 60 games, 185 tackles, 54 tackles for loss, 54.5 sacks, 106 quarterback hits, 10 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 7 passes defensed
Myles Garrett has recorded at least 0.5 sacks in all but one game this season, including 4.5 sacks in Week 3 and at least 1.0 sack in five straight games. He also has at least one quarterback hit in all but one game and at least one tackle for loss in all but two games.
With 12.0 sacks on the season, Garrett currently leads the league in that category. He also leads the league in quarterback hits with 23 and tackles for loss with 12. He’s on-pace to set career-highs in sacks, tackles, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits by the end of the season.
Quarterbacks Need to Keep an Eye on Pass Rushers
The best pass rushers in the league are always looking to take down the quarterback for a loss of yards. They’re always looking for that hole and are always ready to exploit the offensive line into creating a gap for others to run through. They know how to pressure the quarterback.
If quarterbacks don’t keep an eye on these pass rushers, they’ll have a heyday beyond the line of scrimmage and will torture the quarterback into a loss of yardage, turnover, or other bad decisions. It’s what every offensive coach hopes to avoid when facing a quality pass rush.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 25 of the NFL’s Best Pass Rushers of All-Time
As the 2021-22 season continues, we’re going to keep our eyes on the NFL top tens at both quarterback and the pass rush. It’s always exciting when two of these players match up against each other as we get to witness two of the league’s greats go head-to-head against each other.
- 0.1 Who Are the Best Pass Rushers of All-Time?
- 0.2 Who Are the Best Pass Rushers in the NFL Right Now?
- 1 NFL Top Tens: Comparing the 10 Best NFL QBs With the 10 Best NFL Pass Rushers
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