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NFL Draft

Predicting 2020 NFL Sack Leader

  • The Draft Network
  • June 1, 2020
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Do you know how many times there has been a back-to-back sack leader in the NFL since it began using sacks as an official stat back in 1982?

Twice.

Do you know the last time it has been done and with whom?

Reggie White from 1987-88.

Since then there have been players who’ve captured the sack crown more than once — Kevin Greene, Michael Strahan, Demarcus Ware, Jared Allen and J.J. Watt — but none have done it two seasons in a row. History tells us that we'll get a different sack champion than the last year, which means Shaquil Barrett and his league-leading 19 1/2 sacks will be on notice. But who is the most likely to lead the league in 2020? 

There were two players who topped 19 sacks in 2019: Barrett and Chandler Jones. Barrett ended up with half a sack more than Jones, so he got the title, but that should diminish Jones' season. In fact, if we were taking bets on who of the two would have a higher sack total in 2020, it would be Jones.

Jones is a one-man wrecking crew on the Cardinals' defensive line. With not much backfield threat outside of him, Jones has been the man called upon for basically every third-and-long situation. After Jones, the player with the most sacks on the team was 37-year-old Terrell Suggs (5 1/2). To strengthen Jones' case for the sack title, he has recorded double-digit sacks in every season he has played more than 10 games, including the last five consecutive years.

As for Barrett, last year’s sack total came out of nowhere. Barrett had never been a full-time starter previously and was playing on a one-year deal in 2019. Barrett's previous career-high in sacks was 5.5 four years ago. To predict Barrett having similar production in 2020 would be a stretch; I’m not saying he can't, but it would be quite the feat. Barrett will be fighting for sacks with Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, Lavonte David and Devin White in Tampa Bay.

Now, let's get into some of the other players.

Next on the sack list was veteran stud Cameron Jordan. Jordan's 15 1/2 sacks in 2019 were third-best in the league and a career-high; it was just another stellar year for the five-time Pro Bowl player. It was the fifth time in Jordan’s career he recorded double-digit sacks. At 30 years old, I still expect him to be in the top 10 in terms of sack production. 

Aaron Donald is also the running. Donald, who won the sack title in 2018 and Defensive Player of the Year twice already. Danielle Hunter was top five the NFL last season with his second 14 1/2 sack season in a row. Hunter taking that total to an even higher level, which he showed he can sustain, could put him right there in the conversation. Khalil Mack and Von Miller certainly have the ability to put together award-worthy seasons, though neither has ever been crowned the sack champ during their careers.

There are two more players who have a great shot at the sack title: T.J. Watt and Nick Bosa.

Watt's older brother, J.J. Watt, is no stranger to defensive accolades. J.J. Watt is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year recipient and has been the sack leader two times in his career. T.J. Watt is just getting started. In 2018, his second season in the league, he recorded 13 sacks and six forced fumbles. In 2019, he took that to another level with 14 1/2 sacks, eight forced fumbles and two interceptions. T.J. Watt is just a damn good football player. It's not just backfield production that comes naturally to him. He's a player to bet on to have a next-level season.

As for Bosa, as just a rookie he recorded nine sacks in the regular season just missing the illustrious double-digit mark, and an additional four sacks in the playoffs during his team's run to the Super Bowl. Bosa’s production came with DeForest Buckner and Dee Ford on the same defensive line. Buckner is now gone and Ford is a year older. But so is Bosa, and that is a good thing. With some of the most unblockable hands in the NFL, Bosa is one of few players who have the potential to hit 20 sacks in 2020.

There are so many more talented pass rushers who are capable of sack title seasons. But if you ask me, the three players I'd bet on are Chandler Jones, T.J. Watt and Nick Bosa.

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