But this is a defensive front that will likely rely on the scheme and blitz to maximize its pressure rate again in 2020. Whichever teams top the NFL defense rankings will challenge for the championship, and that's a fact. Kicking off this list is a young star on the verge of leaping into the top-tier of players at the position. The team’s problem has been assembling a supporting cast capable of helping Donald maximize his impact. Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe both come over from Carolina, but neither player is the force he once was. Preseason Hall of Famer Steven Means may only have half the preseason games (at most) this year to state his case for regular-season snaps, but he has an absurd 41 total pressures over his last three preseasons. He has the quickness and college production to make a bigger impact, but development is still needed. */ His 53 total pressures in 2019 were the fewest he has totaled in a season since 2014. Last season was the worst PFF grade of his career (59.0), despite seeing his highest workload yet (726 snaps including the playoffs). 16. The NFL's 11 best centers. The interior of the Chargers' line has been the issue in recent seasons, and they will be hoping that Linval Joseph helps shore up that group. Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams The best defensive lineman in the NFL, and the best defensive player on most Sundays. Rookie Larrell Murchison was a fifth-round pick who has solid but not spectacular grades over the past two seasons at NC State. He’s put up double-digit sacks in five of the last seven seasons, can kick inside and is a practiced, disciplined run stopper. ... With that said, here are my rankings of the NFL’s best pass-rushing units for 2020: TIER 1: ELITE PASS-RUSHING DEFENSIVE LINES. in back-to-back rounds. The Las Vegas Raiders begin life in a new city still trying to replace what they had in Khalil Mack. Smith held the rookie record for total pressures (64) until this past season when Nick Bosa blew past that mark, and he could transform this defensive front if he can return anything like the talent he showed in the past. Wolfe: Ravens may have “best defensive line” in NFL. A disruptive player in college, Bryan has been a better run defender than he has been a pass-rusher and has just 37 total pressures across two seasons and 380 rushes. That wasn’t the best season Flowers has ever had, but it’s probably a fair return in his first year as their big-money free-agent acquisition. The Buccaneers defense as a whole is in ascendency, and the same should be true for the defensive line. Cameron Jordan is the star of this group and one of the most underrated players in the league despite near-universal agreement that he is an excellent lineman. }); Combined, they were on the field for fewer than 750 snaps, and neither player graded particularly well, especially given their past performances. [Editor’s Note: PFF’s advanced statistics and player grades are powered by AWS machine learning capabilities.]. Bruce Irvin returns for a second stint with the team that drafted him in the first round back in 2012, but Irvin hasn’t earned a pass-rush grade north of 70.0 since his second season in Seattle. Allen notched 49 pressures as a rookie — though he had 388 rushes to get there — and his overall grade was more good than great. The Steelers' defensive front featured career years out of multiple players in 2019. Alex Highsmith was the only significant addition to the defensive front in the draft, and the third-round pick will look to carve out a role for himself as a situational pass-rusher in his first NFL season. Maurice Hurst was the team’s best pass-rusher in 2019, and the former Michigan star may be about to enter a breakout year. The Panthers evidently believed he can be, and whether they were right will go a long way to determining how good this group can become. Both players are run-focused nose tackles without the pass-rushing versatility to play alongside each other. Meanwhile, the edge remains a problem for the Jets — as it has for a number of years. The Jaguars also add first-rounder K’Lavon Chaisson, who has the highlight reel of a first-rounder with incredible burst and flashes of power, though it’s a concern that he graded at just 72.7 last year at LSU. 17) Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints … 26. 27. The Los Angeles Chargers still have one of the NFL's best pass-rushing duos in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. An increasingly effective rotational inside-outside pass rusher during his four years with the Ravens, Smith turned his play up several notches after the Packers gave him a four-year, $66 million contract and set him loose in Mike Pettine’s multiple fronts. PFFELO Ratings are PFF’s NFL power rankings based on weekly player grades in each facet of play. If he can’t make a sizeable leap forward in 2020, it’s difficult to see where the pressure will come from. Vita Vea took a step forward in his second year, improving his PFF grade while playing significantly more snaps and more than doubling his pressure total from his rookie year. Nobody doubted his dominance and ability, but there were questions as to whether he could be an effective enough pass-rusher at the next level to justify a high first-round pick. Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers Short’s 2019 campaign was cut short by injury, but that doesn’t diminish his place on this list. 13. Depth is a real concern for this defensive front, which has few consistent threats and nobody outside of the players already mentioned who posted a pass-rushing grade north of 65.0 in 2019. In particular, Uche was one of the most efficient pass-rushers in college football, but he is undersized and has never been deployed as a full-time edge rusher. Hunter and Pierce are the two proven commodities on the line, but the other two starting spots and the depth are a major concern. Dean Lowry is a former fourth-round pick who has dramatically outperformed his draft slot but may never be anything beyond solid. Donald’s sacks declined from 20.5 to 12.5 and his total pressures from 113 to 80, but he still left a trail of frustrated offensive linemen. The Baltimore Ravens continue to make smart personnel decisions that should make a significant impact on their team. The Panthers evidently believed he can be, and whether they were right will go a long way to determining how good this group can become. 12. Second-year player Zach Allen may be the player most likely to take a step forward and make an impact, but his rookie season lasted an underwhelming four games before injury landed him on injured reserve. Rankins got back on the field after Week 4 last season but didn’t show his best play until Weeks 13 and 14 before being shut down again. Lowry can still be a solid contributor, particularly against the run, but he has yet to exceed 30 total pressures over a season. There is still the chance that this front could be very good, but it relies on improvement from the players drafted to ensure a smooth succession plan. Tampa Bay placed the franchise tag on Barrett after stealing him in 2019 with a one-year, $4 million contract. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham remain and are likely still the unit's best two players, though Graham's 2019 PFF grade and pressure total were each the lowest he's had in a season since 2015; he may be starting to show signs of slowing down at 32 years old. Sacks and 77 total pressures and an 87.0 PFF pass-rushing grade, ranking first among nose tackles Mercilus top-tier! 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