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States to Produce the Most NFL Players with 10 or More Sacks in a Season: Installment 1, Overview and States 1-5

Updated on November 27, 2014
Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin analyzes sports, with an especially strong penchant for statistical breakdowns.

An great reference for sports fans

In the NFL strike shortened season of 1982, the sack became an official stat in the NFL. Soon after the benchmark for a good season regarding the pass rusher was established.

It is readily acknowledged by all stats conscious sports fans that a 10 sack season for a pass rusher is the defensive equivalent of a 1,000 yard rusher or a 1,000 yard receiver on offense.

In our continual quest to establish the most impactful U.S. states on the game of football, the following database will list every player by state of birth to attain or exceed the 10 sack barrier in a season.

Sadly, many of our best pass rushers are left off this list. Greats like Deacon Jones and Bob Lilly won’t appear here because their careers occurred before the sack was an official stat. But the sample size we do have should be enough to offer a good snapshot into which U.S. states have a knack for producing great pass rushers.

Since its acceptance as an official stat in 1982, the 10 sack season has been met or bettered 603 times by 243 different players from 37 states, Washington, DC, and various U.S. Territories and foreign countries.

As with all football production by U.S. state databases presented by Larry Rankin, we will have an overview of state ranks below submitted in two categories: per capita production and overall number of performances production. Then each state will be listed in order of per capita score, including lists of every player born in said state to go on to have a 10 sack season in the NFL.

In installment 1, full player lists will appear for states ranking 1-5 in per capita production. Other state player lists will appear in subsequent installments. Washington, DC and non-U.S. born players to achieve the 10 sack mark can be found at the end of the final installment.

For those of you interested in other installments of this database, links can be found in the text box in the upper right-hand corner or via link at the bottom of this page. For those of you interested in other state rank databases, links can be found by clicking on the Larry Rankin Profile in the upper right-hand corner or at the end of this page.

Ranking System:

For those of you unfamiliar with these databases, per capita scores are tabulated by dividing the number of performances per state, in this case 10 sack seasons, by the state’s current estimated population, then removing the zeros before the number for a more palatable per capita score.

Overall number of performances rank is tabulated by simply ranking the number of performances each state has produced.

Overview of State Production Rankings: Per Capita & Overall Number

Per Capita Rank
Per Capita Score
Performances Rank
No. Performances
1. South Carolina
670
1. Texas
66
2. Arkansas
642
2. Florida
51
3. Georgia
460
3. California
49
4. Virginia
448
4. Georgia
46
5. Mississippi
368
5. Virginia
37
6. Louisiana
346
6. South Carolina
32
7. Oklahoma
338
t7. New York
25
8. Alabama
331
t7. Pennsylvania
25
9. Tennessee
262
9. Ohio
23
10. Florida
261
10. North Carolina
21
11. Texas
250
t11. Arkansas
19
12. New Jersey
213.5
t11. New Jersey
19
13. North Carolina
213.3
13. Tennessee
17
14. Ohio
199
t14. Alabama
16
15. Pennsylvania
196
t14. Louisiana
16
16. Connecticut
195
16. Illinois
15
17. Iowa
194
17. Oklahoma
13
18. Indiana
183
t18. Indiana
12
19. West Virginia
162
t18. Michigan
12
20. North Dakota
138
20. Mississippi
11
21. Alaska
136
21. Maryland
8
22. Maryland
135
22. Connecticut
7
23. California
128
t23. Iowa
6
24. New York
127
t23. Missouri
6
25. Michigan
121
25. Minnesota
5
26. Illinois
116
26. Colorado
4
27. Nebraska
107
t27. Kansas
3
28. Kansas
104
t27. Massachusetts
3
29. Utah
103
t27. Utah
3
30. Missouri
99
t27. Wisconsin
3
31. Minnesota
92
t27. West Virginia
3
32. Colorado
76
32. Nebraska
2
33. Wisconsin
52
t33. Alaska
1
34. Massachusetts
45
t33. Arizona
1
35. Oregon
25
t33. North Dakota
1
36. Arizona
15
t33. Oregon
1
37. Washington
14
t33. Washington
1
-- Washington, DC
N/A
-- Washington, DC
6
-- American Samoa
N/A
-- American Samoa
1
-- England
N/A
-- England
3
-- Haiti
N/A
-- Haiti
1
-- Jamaica
N/A
-- Jamaica
5
-- Liberia
N/A
-- Liberia
3
-- Virgin Islands
N/A
-- Virgin Islands
1
Source

1. South Carolina

Per Capita Score: 670

10 Sack Performances: 32

Topping a per capita list for the first time is South Carolina. South Carolina hasn’t only produced a lot of 10 sack performances, but a good number of 10 sack performers.

The most consistent contributor to South Carolina’s list is John Abraham. His 8 career 10 sack seasons is tied for 5th in number of performances for an individual.

Other consistent contributors include such names as Clyde Simmons, Robert Porcher, and Peter Boulware.

South Carolina 10 Sack Performances

Year
Team
Pos
Name
Sacks
Tackles
2013
Stl Rams
DE
Robert Quinn
19.0
59
1992
Phi Eagles
DE
Clyde Simmons
19.0
96
2008
Atl Falcons
DE
John Abraham
16.5
36
2005
Oak Raiders
DE
Derrick Burgess
16.0
51
1989
Phi Eagles
DE
Clyde Simmons
15.5
135
2001
Bal Raven
LB
Peter Boulware
15.0
43
1999
Det Lions
DE
Robert Porcher
15.0
32
2001
NY Jets
DE
John Abraham
13.0
53
2010
Atl Falcons
LB
John Abraham
13.0
35
1983
Cin Bengals
DE
Eddie Edwards
13.0
--
1991
Phi Eagles
DE
Clyde Simmons
13.0
115
2003
NY Jets
DE
Shaun Ellis
12.5
47
1997
Det Lions
DE
Robert Porcher
12.5
40
1988
Det Lions
LB
Mike Cofer
12.0
--
2013
Ari Cardinals
DE
John Abraham
11.5
31
1997
Bal Ravens
LB
Peter Boulware
11.5
43
1990
Cle Browns
DT
Michael Dean Perry
11.5
107
1998
Det Lions
DE
Robert Porcher
11.5
41
2006
Oak Raiders
DE
Derrick Burgess
11.0
43
2004
NY Jets
DE
Shaun Ellis
11.0
38
2001
Det Lions
DE
Robert Porcher
11.0
43
1995
Ari Cardinals
DE
Clyde Simmons
11.0
40
2005
NY Jets
DE
John Abraham
10.5
44
2006
Cin Bengals
DE
Robert Geathers
10.5
28
2012
Stl Rams
DE
Robert Quinn
10.5
24
2002
NY Jets
DE
John Abraham
10.0
48
2007
Atl Falcons
DE
John Abraham
10.0
31
2012
Atl Falcons
DE
John Abraham
10.0
32
1999
Bal Ravens
LB
Peter Boulware
10.0
31
1990
Det Lions
LB
Mike Cofer
10.0
--
1985
NY Giants
DE
George Martin
10.0
--
1996
Det Lions
DE
Robert Porcher
10.0
45
Source

2. Arkansas

Per Capita Score: 642

10 Sack Performances: 19

Arkansas has been no stranger to the top 10 of our per capita lists thus far. With an estimated population of less than 3 million, Arkansas, pound for pound, is a hotbed of talent and comes up just short of the number one spot on our per capita sack list.

Leslie O’Neal’s 8 career 10 sack performances leads the way for all Arkansas born pass rushers. It is a bit of a head-scratcher why this 100 career sack club member has yet to be considered for the hall of fame.

Another player of note is Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy. Kennedy only exceeded the 10 sack mark once in his career, but at defensive tackle, was primarily valued as a run stopper.

Arkansas 10 Sack Performances

Year
Team
Pos
Name
Sacks
Tackles
1992
SD Chargers
DE
Leslie O'Neal
17.0
78
1992
NO Saints
DE
Wayne Martin
15.5
70
1992
Sea Seahawks
DT
Cortez Kennedy
14.0
92
1990
SD Chargers
LB
Leslie O'Neal
13.5
81
1995
NO Saints
DT
Wayne Martin
13.0
64
1986
SD Chargers
DE
Leslie O'Neil
12.5
82
1989
SD Chargers
LB
Leslie O'Neal
12.5
96
1994
SD Chargers
DE
Leslie O'Neal
12.5
47
1995
SD Chargers
DE
Leslie O'Neal
12.5
36
1993
SD Chargers
DE
Leslie O'Neal
12.0
56
2004
Min Vikings
DT
Kevin Williams
11.5
52
1996
NO Saints
DT
Wayne Martin
11.0
73
1986
SD Chargers
LB
Billy Ray Smith
11.0
--
1984
Was Redskins
LB
Monte Coleman
10.5
88
1997
NO Saints
DT
Wayne Martin
10.5
54
2003
Min Vikings
DE
Kevin Williams
10.5
36
2004
SD Chargers
LB
Steve Foley
10.0
47
1994
NO Saints
DE
Wayne Martin
10.0
59
1997
Stl Rams
DE
Leslie O'Neal
10.0
35
Source

3. Georgia

Per Capita Score: 460

10 Sack Performances: 46

There is no doubting that Georgia has produced a number of great pass rushers over the years.

Among the most notable names, former Chicago Bear Richard Dent, whose eight 10 sack performances leads the way for the state of Georgia.

Close on his hills is active sack artist DeMarcus Ware. Ware has already passed the 10 sack mark 7 times, and it seems unlikely that he won’t meet or exceed the distinction at least a few more times.

Other Georgia born greats include Pat Swilling and Robert Mathis.

Georgia 10 Sack Performances

Year
Team
Pos
Name
Sacks
Tackles
2008
Dal Cowboys
LB
DeMarcus Ware
20.0
69
2013
Ind Colts
DE
Robert Mathis
19.5
44
2011
Dal Cowboys
LB
DeMarcus Ware
19.5
47
1984
Chi Bears
DE
Richard Dent
17.5
39
1985
Chi Bears
DE
Richard Dent
17.0
38
1991
NO Saints
LB
Pat Swilling
17.0
60
1989
NO Saints
LB
Pat Swilling
16.5
56
2010
Dal Cowboys
LB
DeMarcus Ware
15.5
56
1984
Sea Seahawks
DE
Jeff Bryant
14.5
--
2007
Dal Cowboys
LB
DeMarcus Ware
14.0
60
2001
NO Saints
LB
Charlie Clemons
13.5
75
1995
Oak Raiders
DE
Pat Swilling
13.0
31
1987
Chi Bears
DE
Richard Dent
12.5
34
1993
Chi Bears
DE
Richard Dent
12.5
64
2012
Car Panthers
DE
Charles Johnson
12.5
30
1990
Chi Bears
DE
Richard Dent
12.0
81
1997
Atl Falcons
DE
Chuck Smith
12.0
42
2012
Sea Seahawks
DE
Chris Clemons
11.5
33
1986
Chi Bears
DE
Richard Dent
11.5
75
2010
Car Panthers
DE
Charles Johnson
11.5
51
2005
Ind Colts
DE
Robert Mathis
11.5
43
2008
Ind Colts
DE
Robert Mathis
11.5
36
2006
Dal Cowboys
LB
DeMarcus Ware
11.5
57
2012
Dal Cowboys
LB
DeMarcus Ware
11.5
33
1984
Hou Oilers
DE
Jesse Baker
11.0
--
2010
Sea Seahawks
DE
Chris Clemons
11.0
34
2011
Sea Seahawks
DE
Chris Clemons
11.0
31
2013
KC Chiefs
LB
Justin Houston
11.0
40
2013
Car Panthers
DE
Charles Johnson
11.0
25
2010
Ind Colts
DE
Robert Mathis
11.0
44
1994
Atl Falcons
DE
Chuck Smith
11.0
26
1990
NO Saints
LB
Pat Swilling
11.0
63
2009
Dal Cowboys
LB
DeMarcus Ware
11.0
45
1984
Phi Eagles
NT
Ken Clarke
10.5
--
1988
Chi Bears
DE
Richard Dent
10.5
61
1991
Chi Bears
DE
Richard Dent
10.5
84
1985
Sea Seahawks
DE
Randy Edwards
10.5
--
2004
NO Saints
DE
Charles Grant
10.5
65
2004
Ind Colts
DE
Robert Mathis
10.5
32
1987
NO Saints
LB
Pat Swilling
10.5
49
1992
NO Saints
LB
Pat Swilling
10.5
49
2003
NO Saints
DE
Charles Grant
10.0
46
2012
KC Chiefs
LB
Justin Houston
10.0
53
2000
NY Jets
LB
Mo Lewis
10.0
65
1999
Atl Falcons
DE
Chuck Smith
10.0
38
1999
Jax Jaguars
DT
Gary Walker
10.0
46
Source

4. Virginia

Per Capita Score: 448

10 Sack Performances: 37

In 19 seasons Bruce Smith tallied an NFL record 200 sacks. This first ballot Hall of Famer finished a whopping 13 seasons with 10 or more sacks, also an NFL record.

You would think this would make Smith the unanimous choice for Virginia’s greatest pass rusher, but you’d be wrong. Many opt for Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. Though his career was not as long, and he didn’t dominate for as long a period, while he was at his best, many considered LT to be the most dominate QB rusher to come out of Virginia.

Either way you vote, Virginia has produced two of the greatest sack artists in NFL history.

Another pass rusher of note, multiple Super Bowl Champ Charles Haley.

Virginia 10 Sack Performances

Year
Team
Pos
Name
Sacks
Tackles
1986
NY Giants
LB
Lawrence Taylor
20.5
--
1990
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
19.0
101
1990
SF 49ers
LB
Charles Haley
16.0
58
1988
NY Giants
LB
Lawrence Taylor
15.5
--
1991
Hou Oilers
DE
William Fuller
15.0
54
1986
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
15.0
63
1989
NY Giants
LB
Lawrence Taylor
15.0
--
1998
Bal Ravens
DE
Michael McCrary
14.5
66
1992
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
14.0
89
1993
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
14.0
108
1997
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
14.0
49
1996
Sea Seahawks
DE
Michael McCrary
13.5
57
1996
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
13.5
69
1983
SF 49ers
DE
Dwaine Board
13.0
--
1995
Phi Eagles
DE
William Fuller
13.0
35
1996
Phi Eagles
DE
William Fuller
13.0
27
1989
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
13.0
88
1985
NY Giants
LB
Lawrence Taylor
13.0
--
1994
Dal Cowboys
DE
Charles Haley
12.5
42
1986
SF 49ers
DE
Charles Haley
12.0
59
1987
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
12.0
78
1987
NY Giants
LB
Lawrence Taylor
12.0
--
1985
SF 49ers
DE
Dwaine Board
11.5
--
1988
SF 49ers
DE
Charley Haley
11.5
31
1999
Bal Ravens
DE
Michael McCrary
11.5
43
1984
NY Giants
LB
Lawrence Taylor
11.5
--
1988
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
11.0
56
1989
SF 49ers
LB
Charles Haley
10.5
69
1995
Dal Cowboys
LB
Charles Haley
10.5
57
1995
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
10.5
52
1990
NY Giants
LB
Lawrence Taylor
10.5
--
1984
SF 49ers
DE
Dwaine Board
10.0
--
1993
Hou Oilers
DE
William Fuller
10.0
37
1991
NY Jets
DE
Jeff Lageman
10.0
68
1994
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
10.0
57
1998
Buf Bills
DE
Bruce Smith
10.0
35
2000
Was Redskins
DE
Bruce Smith
10.0
50
Source

5. Mississippi

Per Capita Score: 368

10 Sack Performances: 11

Mississippi’s list boasts a number of good pass rushers, no great ones. With just 11 performances of 10 sacks or more, and a population of less than 3 million, Mississippi still cracks the top 5 of our per capita rankings.

Among the most notable names for Mississippi: Tony Bennett and Freddy Joe Nunn.

Mississippi 10 Sack Performances

Year
Team
Pos
Name
Sacks
Tackles
1988
Pho Cardinals
DE
Freddie Joe Nunn
14.0
53
1992
GB Packers
LB
Tony Bennett
13.5
91
1991
GB Packers
LB
Tony Bennett
13.0
111
2004
Atl Falcons
DT
Roderick Coleman
11.5
31
1984
Ind Colts
LB
Johnie Cooks
11.5
--
2002
Oak Raiders
DT
Roderick Coleman
11.0
32
1987
Stl Cardinals
DE
Freddie Joe Nunn
11.0
46
1995
Ind Colts
DE
Tony Bennett
10.5
47
2005
Atl Falcons
DT
Roderick Coleman
10.5
35
1994
NO Saints
LB
Darion Conner
10.5
40
1983
Buf Bills
DE
Ben Williams
10.0
--

Sources:

The information on this database has been compiled through reference of the following websites: Profootballreference.com, NFL.com, and Wikipedia.

If you believe any of the information in this database to be inaccurate, the author would appreciate your feedback.

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    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Yes, but what are the laws regarding sacks in an NFL season?

    • profile image

      Shkodran 2 years ago

      You guys do realize it isn't legal to make food at home and hand it out? There are food safety laws, and they apply to people like you too, not just restaurants. We always wash our hands and our kitchen is clean isn't good enough. You need to be doing this stuff in a commercial kitchen that is inspected by the health department. Any personal opinions that you care about cleanliness don't really matter. Whether you sell food or give it away in public you can't do it from home. The salvation army and other similar groups who give out food don't cook it in someone's house for a reason.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Iris Draak: Thanks so much for the positive comments.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Larry, your articles about football stats are so interesting. It's truly a shame that the sack stat didn't seem important earlier. That's one of the most exciting things to watch in a game and much of my assessment of a good quarterback is his ability to avoid a pass rusher. It's also the best way, I think, to assess the entire O-line. Have a great day!