2011 NFL Draft: Ranking the Top 20 Pass Rushers

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2011 NFL Draft: Ranking the Top 20 Pass Rushers
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

By no coincidence, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers met in Super Bowl XLV last month after finishing first and second in the NFL in sacks for the season.

Entering the 2011 NFL Draft season, teams hoping to get to where the Packers and Steelers are had better take heed: Pass rushers are golden in today's game.

Defense still wins championships in the NFL, but whereas it used to be the big interior linemen and hard-hitting safeties who shut down the running game and contained opposing offenses, the new world order in this league is constant and effective blitzing.

Putting the quarterback on edge even within the pocket can turn fast-paced offenses into frenzied, out-of-control offenses, and slow-paced offenses into roadkill.

With a nod, then, to the growing importance of pass rushers in today's game, here are the 20 best pass rushers available in next month's draft.

Some play inside on the defensive front, while others float between outside linebacker and defensive end.

All of them, though, share a nose for the quarterback and the freakish athleticism it takes to break up play after play in the backfield.

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