Besides quarterback, pass rusher is one of the most important positions in all of football. It is necessary for a team’s defense to get pressure on the other team’s quarterback in order to find success. Without a competent pass rush, it’s very difficult to go far in the NFL. With this in mind, here are the top five pass rushers entering the 2020 NFL season.
Since being traded from the New England Patriots in 2016, Cardinals EDGE rusher Chandler Jones has had 60 sacks in that span. Jones finished in the top two in sacks in the NFL in two of the past three seasons, with a career-high 19 last season. He is very flexible, difficult to block and routinely knocks linemen back into the quarterback. Jones is a two-time first-team All-Pro and is only improving while still in the prime of his career. The scary thing for the rest of the league is that the best for the 30-year-old Jones may be yet to come.
While missing the final six games of the 2019 season with a suspension, Garrett has still proven himself to be one of the NFL’s best pass rushers in his three-year career. In 10 games last season, the Browns defensive end totaled 10 sacks with a 17.1 percent pressure rate. Garrett’s pressure rate was the highest by any NFL player over the last three seasons (with a minimum of 250 pass rushes), according to Next Gen stats. Garrett is very powerful and flexible as a pass rusher, with a unique ability to bend around the corner and work downhill behind the quarterback in order to sack him. His mobility and agility combined with his speed rushing ability make him a nightmare for offensive linemen to stop. Garrett is one of the smartest and most skilled defensive players in the league and should be even more dangerous for a full 2020 season.
The youngest Watt brother has already proven himself to be one of the most skilled and versatile defensive players in the NFL after just three seasons. Watt’s productivity and effectiveness has improved each season, as he finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2019. The Steelers linebacker is a dangerous pass rusher, with 14.5 sacks last season. Watt’s wide array of pass-rushing moves makes him very unpredictable and hard to block. He also made plays in the passing game, deflecting eight passes last season. Watt played a huge role in creating takeaways for the Steelers defense. He generated 10 turnovers on his own in 2019, including a league-leading eight forced fumbles.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and 287 pounds, Jordan is larger than the average defensive end although he doesn’t play like it. The Saints defensive end possesses all of the traits a team wants in a pass rusher: big, strong, fast, relentless and smart. He’s quick and very disruptive off the edge, forcing teams to change their offensive identities in order to block him in pass protection. Jordan is coming off of his best season as a pass rusher with 15.5 sacks, third-most in the NFL in 2019. Heading into his 10th season with New Orleans, the 31-year-old Jordan is still only improving as an elite pass rusher.
Barrett exploded onto the scene in 2019, leading the NFL with 19.5 sacks. Before that, the 27-year-old Buccaneers EDGE rusher had only 14 sacks for his entire career. While Barrett isn’t as big or as athletic as other elite pass rushers, he makes up for it with his intelligence, savviness and productivity. He excels at using his hands in order to create separation and beat his blocker off the edge. Barrett thrived in his first season with Tampa Bay under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. He ranked in the top three in the NFL in quarterback hits (37, tied for first), quarterback pressures (68, ranking third) and forced fumbles (six, ranking third). With a solid supporting cast surrounding him on the defensive line, Barrett has a great chance to be a top pass rusher once more in 2020.