The 50 Best Pure Pass Rushers in NFL History

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IINovember 18, 2011

The 50 Best Pure Pass Rushers in NFL History

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    If a defense is going to be a dominant one, then chances are they're going to have to an elite pass rusher. 

    Elite pass rushers are hard to come by, but if a team is fortunate to acquire one, then their whole defensive style changes, as that single player can stop a quarterback right in their tracks before they can do anything. 

    Some of the great pass rushers of all-time are Lawrence Taylor, Deacon Jones and Reggie White—all three of those players were arguably the most important part of their defense. 

    In that spirit, allow me to introduce to you the 50 best pure pass rushers of all-time.

50. Mario Williams

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    At just the young age of 26 years old, Mario Williams has already recorded 53 career sacks. 

    Beside Williams' rookie season and this past season, as he was placed on injured reserve, he has recorded at least 8.5 sacks in each of those seasons. 

    Williams had been flourishing in Wade Phillips' 3-4 defensive attack this year and should continue his dominance next season. 

49. Leonard Marshall

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    Leonard Marshall spent time with the Washington Redskins, New York Jets and most notably the New York Giants alongside Lawrence Taylor, where they paired up to create one of the best pass-rushing duos in NFL history.

    Marshall sits at 45th all-time with 83.5 career sacks. 

48. Terrell Suggs

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    Terrell Suggs is a premiere pass rush for the Baltimore Ravens, as he's accumulated 74.5 career sacks despite being only 29 years old. 

    Suggs may not be considered one of the best pass rushers of all time, but when he hangs up the cleats, people will start to put him in that category. 

47. Greg Ellis

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    Greg Ellis was a beast along the defensive line for 11 years in the NFL, as he spent 10 years with the Dallas Cowboys and his last season with the Oakland Raiders.

    Ellis is 43rd on the NFL all-time sack list with 84 sacks. 

46. La'Roi Glover

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    La'Roi Glover bounced around the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders.

    Glover retired after an impressive career in 2008 with 83.5 sacks. 

45. Howie Long

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    Howie Long is one of the greatest players to ever wear an Oakland Raiders uniform.

    Long was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 after accumulating 84 sacks.

    Long's No. 75 silver and black Raiders uniform is one of the most iconic jerseys in all of football. 

44. Ken Harvey

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    Eighty-four career sacks is pretty damn good if you ask me, considering that it's 40th best in NFL history.

    Ken Harvey had a solid career, as he spent time with the Phoenix Cardinals and the Washington Redskins, and he was named to four Pro Bowls, as well as being a member of the 70 Greatest Redskins. 

43. Bryant Young

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    Bryant Young was the seventh overall pick in the 1994 pick and was a key part of San Francisco's Super Bowl run in 1994, when he recorded six sacks.

    By the end of his career in 2007, Young had accumulated 89.5 sacks. 

42. Leonard Little

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    Leonard Little spent his entire career with the St. Louis Rams, winning one Super Bowl as well as being named All-Pro once.

    Little retired in 2009 and currently sits 41st all-time with 87.5 sacks. 

41. Robert Mathis

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    The 30-year-old Robert Mathis has played in three Pro Bowls during his eight-year career. 

    As of right now, Mathis sits 60th all-time with 74 career sacks while still playing for the Indianapolis Colts. 

40. Henry Thomas

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    Henry Thomas played for the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions and retired with a respectable 93.5 career sacks.

    Thomas was a massive force on the defensive line and is No. 36 on the all-time sack list. 

39. Steve McMichael

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    Steve McMichael played 14 years in the NFL, spending time with the Chicago Bears and then crossing over to the Green Bay Packers and accumulated 95 sacks.

    McMichael's 95 sacks are 34th most all-time. 

38. Robert Porcher

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    Robert Porcher is a lifelong Detroit Lion, as he spent all of his 11 seasons with the Lions.

    Porcher retired in 2003 after accumulating 95.5 sacks, which registers at 33rd most all-time. 

37. Trevor Pryce

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    The 35-year-old Trevor Pryce has an extremely successful NFL career.

    Pryce played for the Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets while recording 91 career sacks. 

36. Jacon Green

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    Jacob Green is a two-time Pro Bowler and spent the majority of his career with the Seattle Seahawks. 

    With his incredible 97.5, you can definitely say that he's the greatest defensive player in Seattle's history. 

35. Willie McGinest

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    The former New England Patriot, Willie McGinest, is the all-time playoff sacks leader with a whopping total of 16.

    McGinest retired with 86 career sacks, but was an absolute monster and virtually unstoppable in the playoffs. 

34. Dexter Manley

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    Some could say that the two-time All-Pro Dexter Manley may be the best defensive end ever to play for the Washington Redskins.

    Manley spent nine years with the 'Skins and retired with 97.5 carer sacks, which is 28th all-time. 

33. Simon Fletcher

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    Simon Fletcher is the current record holder of 10 consecutive games with a sack, which he shares with DeMarcus Ware.

    Fletcher spent all of his career with the Denver Broncs while recording 97.5 career sacks. 

32. Joey Porter

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    Joey Porter came into the NFL in 1999 and hasn't looked back—he has been one of the premiere pass rushers of the recent decade.

    At 33 years old, Porter has 98 career sacks and should cross 100 by the end of 2011. 

31. Andre Tippet

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    For many years, Andre Tippet was the face of the New England Patriots. Tippet retired in 1993 with a remarkable 100 total sacks.

    Tippet was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008. 

30. Charles Haley

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    Not only was Charles Haley an absolute sack machine, as he tallied up 100.5 sacks. He was a winner with the San Francisco 49ers. 

    Haley retired in 1999 after winning an incredible five Super Bowls. 

29. William Fuller

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    The four-time Pro Bowler William Fuller was a gigantic force for the Houston Oilers, Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers.

    Fuller retired in 1998 with a career total of 100.5 sacks.  

28. Warren Sapp

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    They don't call Warren Sapp "QB Killa" for nothing—he tormented quarterbacks over the course of his stellar career.

    Sapp tallied up 96.5 sacks over his 12-year career that was spent with the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

27. Jared Allen

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    Jared Allen may be one of the most underrated pass rushers in the NFL, but he has been a consistent force for the Minnesota Vikings over the course of his career.

    Allen has 97 career sacks to date, and that will likely be well over 100 by the end of 2011. 

26. Dwight Freeney

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    Dwight Freeney has been a headache for opposing offenses for quite sometime now.

    Freeney has been the Indianapolis Colts sack machine ever since 2002 while racking up an incredible 98.5 career sacks. 

25. Jim Jeffcoat

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    102.5 career sacks is pretty damn impressive. 

    Jim Jeffcoat was one hell of a pass rusher for the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills over the course of his 15-year career. 

24. Julius Peppers

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    Julius Peppers may not have a whole lot of sacks, but 95 is still extremely productive. 

    Peppers is a five time All-Pro, as well as being named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. 

    There is no doubt that he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. 

23. Neil Smith

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    Neil Smith had a successful NFL career with his best season coming in 1993 when he accumulated 15 sacks. 

    Smith retired in 2000 after being named to six Pro Bowls. 

22. Kevin Carter

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    During Kevin Carter's 13-year career,  he racked up 104.5 career sacks, which registers at 19th all-time.

    Carter was named to two Pro Bowls, as well as being named All Pro once. 

21. Trace Armstrong

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    Trace Armstrong was an absolute headache for opposing offenses to block despite being named to only one Pro Bowl.

    Armstrong retired in 2003 and finished his illustrious career with 106 sacks. 

20. Jason Taylor

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    Jason Taylor is one of the greatest defensive players in recent memory.

    Taylor made his name as a stellar pass rusher for the Miami Dolphins, as he had six seasons with 10 or more sacks.

    At 36 years old and still going, Taylor has 135.5 career sacks. 

19. Pat Swilling

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    Pat Swilling was named to five Pro Bowls over the course of his 12-year career.

    Swilling racked up 107.5 sacks over those seasons while playing for the New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions. 

18. Greg Townsend

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    Greg Townsend was a lifelong Raider until playing one season with the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Townsend recorded 109.5 sacks while playing in two Pro Bowls over the course of his solid NFL career. 

17. John Abraham

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    As a member of the New York Jets, John Abraham was a monstrous defensive end that had a niche at putting extreme pressure on the quarterback. Now, while playing for the Atlanta Falcons, he's the team's top defender and leader.

    Abraham has a career 105.5 sacks. 

16. Sean Jones

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    Sean Jones has the 15th most sacks in NFL history, as he recorded 113 sacks over the course of his stellar 13-year career. 

    Jones will be remembered as a vicious defensive end for the Los Angeles Raiders.

15. Clyde Simmons

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    Clyde Simmons played in two Pro Bowls and recorded 121.5 career sacks. 

    During his 14 seasons in the NFL, Simmons was an absolute monster and had a real talent for chasing down the quarterback. 

14. Simeon Rice

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    Simeon Rice was a dominant pass rusher for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts.

    Rice accumulated 122 career sacks of the course of his career and is likely to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame pretty soon. 

13. DeMarcus Ware

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    When the 28-year-old DeMarcus Ware retires, he may be remembered as one of the greatest pass rushers of all-time, possibly even the best.

    Entering 2011, Ware had recorded an impressive 93 sacks, and there is no question that Ware will climb up the all-time sacks list at an incredible rate. 

12. Rickey Jackson

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    Rickey Jackson is a recent Hall of Fame inductee of the 2010 class.

    Jackson played for the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers and retired with 128 career sacks. 

11. Leslie O'Neal

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    The six-time Pro Bowler, Leslie O'Neal, will make a strong case for being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the upcoming years.

    O'Neal played 13 stellar seasons while recording a solid 132.5 career sacks. 

10. Chris Doleman

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    There is no doubt in my mind that Chris Doleman will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the upcoming years.

    Doleman was a beast during his years in the NFL, as he retired with the fourth most sacks of all-time, tallying up 150.5 sacks. 

9. Derrick Thomas

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    The late Derrick Thomas was much better than his already incredible stats say, as his career was cut short at 33-years-old.

    Thomas played Kansas City Chiefs and retired with an impressive 126.5 career sacks, which is good enough for 12th all-time. 

8. John Randle

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    The 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was filled with pass rushers, including the great John Randle. 

    During Randle's brilliant 13-year career, he recorded a stellar 137.5 career sacks. Randle was always a consistent pass rusher for the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks.

7. Richard Dent

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    Richard Dent was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles. 

    The two-time Super Bowl champion retired with the sixth most sacks in NFL history, standing at 137.5.

6. Deacon Jones

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    Deacon Jones coined the term sack.

    Jones was the first dominant pass rusher that the sport has seen, as he recorded an unofficial 173.5 career sacks, which would be third all-time.

    Jones was an absolute monster, as he would throw offensive linemen around like rag dolls and chase down quarterbacks like it was no one's business. 

5. Michael Strahan

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    Michael Strahan is arguably the greatest pass rush of the recent decade, as he retired with a stellar 141.5 career sacks.

    There is no doubt that Strahan will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the upcoming years. 

4. Kevin Greene

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    Kevin Greene was an absolute monster during his years as a Los Angeles Ram, Pittsburgh Steeler, Carolina Panther and a San Francisco 49er.

    Greene has a career 160 sacks, which is good enough for third all time. 

3. Reggie White

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    Reggie White was one of the greatest players to ever play the game, as he's second on the all-time sack list with a stellar 198 total.

    White played from 1985 until 2000 and was virtually unstoppable. 

    Being dubed the nickname "The Minister of Defense," he was selected to 13 Pro Bowls, was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year two times as well as being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006—sadly two years after his tragic death. 

2. Bruce Smith

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    Bruce Smith is the all-time leader in sacks—is there much more that I need to say?

    Smith recorded 200 career sacks during his years as a Buffalo Bill and a Washington Redskin. The all-time sack leader was selected by Buffalo in 1985 with the first overall pick, and he without a question lived up to all expectations. 

    It's pretty special to be able to say that you are the only player in NFL history to have sacks reaching the 200s, and Bruce Smith is the only person that can. 

1. Lawrence Taylor

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    Lawrence Taylor is the greatest defensive player to ever play the game of football—in my opinion, there is no debate. 

    The original L.T. was an absolute freak of nature and virtually impossible to block, he was that dominant. Over the course of his career, L.T. racked up 132.5 career sacks, which is good enough for ninth best in NFL history. 

    L.T. changed the game of football with not only his stellar pass rushing abilities, but how athletic he was for an outside linebacker. 

    I am sure that every single team wish that they could have a player like Lawrence Taylor. 

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