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PFF Record Book: Interior defensive linemen signature stats

2K6D04N Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) celebrates a sack during a NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, October 9, 2022, at SoFi Stadium, in Inglewood, CA. The Cowboys defeated the Rams 22-10. (Jon Endow/Image of Sport/Sipa USA)

• Simply the best: Aaron Donald claims eight PFF records, including the most pressures in a season among interior defenders.

• J.J. Watt produced in both key facets: Watt takes home records in run defense and pass rush, including the most run stops in a season at the position.

• Damon “Snacks” Harrison was a force to be reckoned with: His 93.7 run-defense grade in 2018 stands as the top mark in the PFF era among interior defensive linemen.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

The PFF database is a vast expanse of grades and statistics encompassing nearly two decades' worth of NFL action. The goal has always been to help better understand the game of football and bridge the gap between the past and present generations.

PFF data goes as far back as 2006, which may be a small sample size of the game’s entire history, but it serves as a tremendous asset in determining which performances truly stand the test of time.

These are the official PFF records for interior defender signature stats.

Other Signature Stat Position Pieces:

QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | EDGE
Offense | Defense

Pass Rushing

PFF Pass-Rush Grade

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (2017) – 94.2

Donald is the most impressive interior pass rusher of the PFF era. For eight straight years, he has proven to be in a class of his own, earning 90.0-plus pass-rush grades in every season. Additionally, Donald’s 2017 campaign marks the only instance in PFF history that a pass rusher has broken the 94.0 grade threshold in that facet. To add even more praise on top of an already impressive feat, Donald owns the six highest-graded pass-rushing seasons by an interior defender.

PFF Sacks

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (2018) & J.J. Watt, Houston Texans (2012) – 21

The NFL classifies sacks made by more than one player as half-sacks for every defender involved; however, at PFF, sacks are recorded in full regardless of how many players reach the quarterbacks. That allows for a better representation of pass-rush production, removing the half-sack penalty for having talented teammates.

This signature stat record is held by a pair of the most dominant defenders of the past decade, and it won’t be the last time you see their names on this list. Both Donald and Watt top this list with 21 PFF sacks and stand as the only interior defenders to surpass 20 in a single season. While Watt moved to an edge role for the majority of his career, he began his NFL tenure playing a majority of snaps on the interior (five-technique or closer), which is why he qualifies for this award.


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