J.J. Watt and the NFL's 10 Most Dominant Pass Rushers for the Next Decade
One of the most important qualities of an NFL defense is its ability to rush the passer.
Throughout the history of the league, there has been a host of dominant pass-rushers that have played. Bruce Smith, Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White are just a few of the many that have held this title.
Here are the most dominant pass-rushers for the next decade in the NFL.
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Adrian Clayborn had a superb rookie season for the Tampa Bay Bucs this year.
He managed to pick up 42 tackles and 7.5 sacks, which was good for the most QB takedowns on his defense.
His deceiving quickness off the edge surprised many opposing offensive linemen in his first season, which helped him accumulate a high number of sacks.
I expect him to be a dominant pass-rusher in the NFC South for a long time.
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There was a fair amount of hype that came with former Texas Longhorn Sam Acho when he entered the '11 NFL draft.
After his rookie season, it's easy to see why.
Acho had seven sacks and four forced fumbles from his outside linebacker position, as he has given Arizona's defense a legitimate pass-rusher going forward.
Although Acho isn't as talented as some of the other players on this list, I still think that he will be in the top 10 for sacks over the next decade.
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The Cleveland Browns were able to strike gold on second-round pick Jabaal Sheard in last year's draft.
In his inaugural season in the league, Sheard punished opposing QBs for 8.5 sacks.
The Hollywood Hills (Fla.) High product was one of the only true playmakers on a Browns defense that doesn't possess many of them.
I look for Sheard to continue his rookie dominance into his sophomore season and beyond.
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Linebacker Brooks Reed is one of two Texans who made this list.
In fact, Reed had a much similar '11 year to that of teammate J.J. Watt.
He only had 0.5 sack more than Watt during the regular season and also had 3.5 sacks in the playoffs.
Like Watt, he gave NFL fans a taste of how dominant of a pass-rusher that he could be in his NFL career.
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Chiefs OLB Justin Houston finished his rookie season on a high note in 2011.
In his last five games, Houston racked up 5.5 sacks, which was good for second on the team behind Pro Bowler Tamba Hali.
In those final five contests, he showed why many NFL scouts were projecting him as a potential first-round pick in last April's draft.
KC has to be very excited about the prospect of having another potentially elite outside linebacker on its defense for years to come.
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Ryan Kerrigan was one of the best pass-rushers to ever come out of Purdue University.
This season, he proved that by collecting 7.5 sacks at defensive end for the Redskins.
However, Kerrigan is just getting started as a dominant pass rusher for this Washington defense. I can easily see him becoming one of the more elite players at his position in the next few years.
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Pierre-Paul is the only second-year player to make this list, but for good reason.
He exploded in his sophomore season in the league last year with 16.5 sacks from his defensive end position.
The former South Florida standout is easily the most talented pass rusher on a very strong Giants defense.
Offensive linemen will have nightmares going up against this guy in the future.
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Before the '11 season started, some were already comparing Broncos rookie Von Miller to the late Hall of Fame OLB Derrick Thomas.
Miller looked every bit like Thomas as he put on a clinic for pass-rushing in his first season in the league this year.
The Denver rookie finished his campaign with 11.5 sacks, which was good enough for second among all NFL rookies in that category.
At times, he seemed to be unstoppable and will surely be near the top of the AFC in sacks many more times before his career is over.
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Houston rookie J.J. Watt came on strong near the end of the season for the Texans.
Even though he finished the regular season with just 5.5 sacks, he managed to pick up 3.5 more in his team's two playoff games combined.
Watt is a talented defensive end who draws comparisons to Minnesota's Jared Allen because of his size and relentless motor at that position.
He will surely pick up many more sacks for this Texans defense over the course of the next 10 years.
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What more can you say about Aldon Smith at this point?
The former University of Missouri star dominated opposing offenses this year to the tune of 14 sacks.
He even notched a sack in his only career playoff game against the Saints last weekend.
Like many on this list, the sky is the limit for this kid, and he has the potential to have more sacks than anyone else in the league over the next decade.