The NFL is ripe with young pass rushers who have entered the league the last few seasons, and there are still plenty of veterans well within the prime of their careers. The NFL is experiencing a revitalization of the pass rusher, and there are some impressive names in the college ranks as well.
The 2011 draft alone brought Von Miller, Aldon Smith, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn, Ryan Kerrigan and Justin Houston into the league. This season, rookies Bruce Irvin and Chandler Jones are already shining with their new teams, and the league hasn’t even seen players like Jadeveon Clowney, Bjoern Werner, Barkevious Mingo, Jarvis Jones and Dion Jordan who will enter the league in 2013 or 2014.
While those players have all the potential in the world, veterans like Terrell Suggs, Jared Allen, Julius Peppers and Geno Atkins are still getting after the quarterback at a torrid pace. Players are coming from all over defensive fronts to pressure the passer. Watt is getting it done as a 3-4 defensive end, Atkins from defensive tackle and Miller as a strong-side linebacker. It’s no longer just players flying around the edge of the left side of the offense for quarterbacks to be worried about.
With the increased passing that the NFL has seen over the last few years, pressuring the quarterback is getting even more important, and pass rushers are getting taken earlier and earlier in drafts. Without a sure-thing No. 1 quarterback in next season’s draft, we could see one of the players above taken first.
With so many talented players piling up sacks, it was difficult whittling the list to just 10. There were some tough cuts, but not every player could make our Top 10.