NFL games are won in the trenches. While the offensive line tries to protect the QB and open spaces for the RBs, the defensive line tries to dismantle it.
What better way to bring down your opponents than actually bringing them to the ground? Of course, it’s easier said than done. The offensive linemen are big boys.
Having players that are able to get to the QB and tackle them is the key for success. You make them lose yards, you blow their will out and you make a stand that no easy plays will come their way.
Those talented enough to get sacks on a consistent basis are highly coveted. Needless to say, they get paid quite well. Defense wins championships, and getting sacks is as pure a form of defense as there is.
In this guide, we’ll cover the best prospects to win the Deacon Jones Award for sack leader.
Opposed to other NFL awards based on votes and subjectivity, this is a mathematical award. The player with the most sacks is the winner of the Deacon Jones Award. Since 1982, the sacks have been counted as an official stat.
During the last few years, some names have taken their status into sack royalty. Hence, it’s expected for them to get big numbers in this department.
Now, as you know, football can change in a hurry, and so can the sack leaders. There is a reason we haven’t seen a back-to-back sack leader since Reggie White back in the ‘87 and ‘88 seasons.
Let’s stop the hard count and properly jump into the favorites for the Deacon Jones Award in 2021.
Myles Garrett – The Browns’ DE had 12 sacks last season and the oddsmakers are “challenging” him to get one more this year. This will be the fifth season of Garrett in the NFL, he has double-digit sacks in all but his rookie year, which saw him get a respectable seven.
With sheer strength and a big pace coming down the wings, Garrett has the ability to dominate. He also gets to face not-so-good offensive lines against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh twice a year. Let’s not get it twisted, Garrett is elite, and stopping him is nearly impossible.
Aaron Donald – Employed as both a DE or DT, no interior force is as feared as Aaron Donald. Standing at 6-foot-1 inches tall, Donald is not the biggest. However, he is the strongest, fastest, and smartest interior linemen in the league. And it’s not even close.
Donald gets doubled or tripled every snap, and he still finds a way to get sacks. Five of his seven seasons as pro has seen him get 10+ sacks, including a monstrous 20.5 in 2018.
He is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and a game-changer who obliterates every single plan of stopping him with no effort.
TJ Watt – Aaron Donald is the DPOY, but for many, TJ Watt should’ve won the award. Watt is a machine as an outside linebacker, and the scary thing is he is only getting better. From 7.0 to 13.0, to 14.5, to lead of the NFL with 15 sacks last year. Every season, he gets more dominant.
The 2x All-Pro is coming back with a vengeance this year as well. Pittsburgh led the league in sacks in 2020, thanks in a large part to TJ Watt. The IQ and speed Watt possesses give him an edge against almost any offensive tackle in the league. He is more than just a backfield threat, he is really good at football.
Shaquil Barrett – Barrett won the Deacon Jones Award back in 2019. He amassed an outstanding 19.5 sacks that year. He is proof that sack studs can come out of nowhere. Before his breakthrough season, his career-high in sacks was 5.5. He was never this dominant.
He followed his 19.5 sack season with eight in 2020, still a respectable number. The thing is, he has to compete for sacks with a star-studded defensive line in Tampa. Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, Devin White, Vita Vea, and Lavonte David will all sneak some sacks off of Barrett.
Joey Bosa – The Big Bear is an elite DE. An absolute monster. He has double-digit sacks in every season where he started at least 11 games. Injuries may have derailed his hype, but make no mistake, Bosa is elite.
Plus, his partner in crime, Melvin Ingram, departed the team. This means Bosa will have even more need to get sacks. Of course, this also makes him the clear-cut target for offensive linemen to block.
Despite that, Bosa is unstoppable to other men. The only thing that puts a brake on him is his health. No injuries would mean Bosa can get atop the sack totals list.
Za’Darius Smith – The Packers have little pass rush besides Smith. Since joining Green Bay in 2019, he has 26 sacks, leader of the team by ten sacks in that period. If there is a playmaker in Green Bay’s trenches, it’s him.
Entering the season at 29 years old, Smith is in the prime of his career. He has another big year in store, considering in his division alone, he faces static QBs. Those are six games where sacks can be racked up.
Danielle Hunter – The Vikings’ defense sunk in 2020. It was the fifth-to-last defense in sacks and that’s because no one helped Hunter. At all. Minnesota’s DE has been a Pro-Bowler in the last two seasons, garnering 14.5 in each of those years.
Hunter has solidified himself as a top pass rusher in this league. He has an absurd number of 54.5 sacks in five seasons as a pro. Hunter’s output is elite, and he is not to blame for Minnesota’s struggles stopping people.
Cameron Jordan – It is well-known that the Saints’ DE is a stud. He is a certified veteran in the league, which comes into his tenth season in the league. Since his rookie season, Jordan has never had less than 7.5 sacks in a year. That’s the number he got in 2020.
It was the first time in six years he wasn’t the Saints sack leader. At 31, Jordan is entering the twilight of his career still at a high level. With Trey Hendrickson now out of the team, Jordan is, once again, the main man in the front seven.
Von Miller – From the same draft as Jordan, Von Miller has wreaked havoc for a decade in the NFL. The former Super Bowl MVP has 106 sacks in his career. Despite missing the 2020 season due to injury, Miller will be back at the Broncos’ D-Line.
A future Hall of Famer, Miller is still a fast, smart linebacker. He is capable of stacking sacks during the season and helping the Broncos in a tough AFC West.
Khalil Mack – Khalil Mack is one of the strongest players in the league, commanding one of the best defenses in the NFL. Mack has been shy of double-digit sacks, but this doesn’t mean he has slowed down.
Since making Soldier Field his home, Mack moved from a right DE to a left OLB. Also, he is in a loaded front seven. The Bears have a solid defense, and Mack is at the forefront of it.
Nick Bosa – Just like his older brother, Bosa didn’t last to make a big impact in the league. In his rookie year, he got nine sacks. In his sophomore campaign, he suffered a season-ending injury that halted his meteoric rise. However, being on one dominant defensive line, Bosa is a great fit to reach double digits in sacks.
Bosa is ready, willing, and able to get going as the Niners prepare for another Super Bowl run in 2021.
This is how you bet on the sack totals futures:
1. Log in to your account at your preferred sportsbook.
2. Look for the ‘NFL Betting Odds’ Tab.
3. Direct yourself to the ‘Player Futures’ option.
4. Select ‘Most Sacks’ to see the players’ odds.
5. Click the player you want to bet on.
6. Make it official on the bet slip window on the right-hand side.