Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The 25 hardest hitters in the NFL

Even with more emphasis on player safety than ever previously in NFL history, fans still love a good hit. Nothing can get them out of their seats or shouting "Ohhhh" more than a great body blow.

There's no way to quantify "hardest NFL hitters," but based on statistics and the eye test, here are the top 25 hardest hitters playing in the NFL during 2019 (listed in alphabetical order):

 
Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

While Bosa has made only one Pro Bowl, he already has 29.5 sacks in 37 career NFL games. In his only full season (2017), he hit the quarterback 21 times.

 
2 of 25

Vontaze Burfict, Oakland Raiders

Vontaze Burfict, Oakland Raiders
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The 28-year-old has supposedly become a leader with the Raiders, but he will never shed his reputation as one of the hardest, dirtiest hitters in the league. In total, Burfict has lost about $4.12 million to suspensions and fines stemming from illegal hits during his career.

 
Calais Campbell, Jacksonville Jaguars
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 All-Pro was quietly one of the best defensive linemen in the league with the Arizona Cardinals from 2008-16, and then he became a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in 2017. In 34 games with the Jaguars, Campbell has 25 sacks and 53 quarterback hits.

 
Jadeveon Clowney, Seattle Seahawks
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

By itself, Clowney makes this list for his famous hit during the 2013 Outback Bowl against Michigan, but he's posted many more memorable hits during his NFL career. Clowney has posted at least 9.0 sacks and 21 quarterback hits in each of the last two seasons.

 
Landon Collins, Washington Redskins
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The 25-year-old has posted at least 96 tackles in each of his four NFL seasons. During 2016, he made All-Pro with 125 combined tackles, including 100 solos, nine tackles for loss, five quarterback hits and 4.0 sacks. He could have easily won the Defensive Player of the Year Award that season.

 
Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Mississippi State product has become one of the most feared defensive linemen in the league the last few seasons, and he finally made the All-Pro team in 2018. He had a career year with 10.5 sacks, 34 quarterback hits and 12 tackles for loss.

 
7 of 25

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Capturing the last two Defensive Player of the Year Awards is enough to justify Donald a spot on this list. He led the league with 20.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss while also chipping in a career-high 41 quarterback hits last season on his way to his fourth All-Pro nomination.

 
Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Known for his tremendous hits in the SEC, Garrett has brought that to Cleveland and could be only scratching the surface of what he can do at the NFL level. He made his first Pro Bowl last season with 13.5 sacks, 29 quarterback hits and 12 tackles for loss.

 
9 of 25

Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers

Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

James is one of the brightest young safeties in the league. While he hasn't played yet in 2019 due to injury, he made the All-Pro team as a rookie last year with 105 combined tackles, six quarterback hits and four tackles for loss.

 
Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The five-time All-Pro linebacker is one of the best defenders of this era and has certainly dished out plenty of big hits during his career. He's averaged nearly 140 combined tackles per season in his career, and Kuechly already has 25 combined tackles through two games this year.

 
DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When he's not denying kids autographs, Lawrence is usually hitting the quarterback. He has 25.5 sacks and 52 quarterback hits in his last 33 games.

 
Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The three-time All-Pro has posted double-digit sacks in each of the last four seasons and did so last year despite missing two games. Mack has 50 sacks, 91 quarterback hits and 64 tackles for loss since the start of 2015.

 
13 of 25

Clay Matthews, Los Angeles Rams

Clay Matthews, Los Angeles Rams
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Matthews has lost a step over the last few seasons, but his resume lands him on this list. During his prime, he was one of the most feared defenders in the entire league. Matthews has 85.5 sacks and 191 quarterback hits in his 11-year career.

 
Von Miller, Denver Broncos
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Known more for his elusive pass rushing ability, Miller is still plenty tough enough to land on a hardest hitters list. He's made three All-Pro teams in his career, and Miller hasn't posted fewer than 10 sacks and 20 quarterback hits in any season in which he played at least 10 games.

 
Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons
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Playing the role Kam Chancellor once did in Dan Quinn's defense, Neal is one of the most underrated hitters in the league. Neal has 230 combined tackles and six tackles for loss in just 33 career games.

 
16 of 25

Josh Norman, Washington Redskins

Josh Norman, Washington Redskins
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Norman has made only one Pro Bowl, but he's garnered the reputation as one of the nastiest cornerbacks in the league during his eight-year career. Norman posted 64 combined tackles, including 40 solos in 2018.

 
17 of 25

Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings

Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings
Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 All-Pro safety is a candidate for the hardest hitter at not only his position but also in the entire NFL. Smith is arguably the best player on Mike Zimmer's elite Vikings defense, and last season he posted 84 combined tackles with five quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss.

 
18 of 25

Terrell Suggs, Arizona Cardinals

Terrell Suggs, Arizona Cardinals
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

He's certainly in the twilight of his career, but the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year winner has been one of the greatest hitters of the last 15 years. He posted a career-high 12 sacks and 23 quarterback hits when he won the award as best defender in the league during 2011.

 
Ndamukong Suh, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to Burfict, Suh makes this list in controversial fashion, as he has been known for dirty hits during and after NFL plays. Suh has made three All-Pro teams and averaged 20 quarterback hits and more than 12 tackles for loss each season since 2012.

 
20 of 25

D.J. Swearinger, Arizona Cardinals

D.J. Swearinger, Arizona Cardinals
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Swearinger is probably the biggest surprise on my list. He's never made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team, but he can hit with the best of them. Swearinger delivered 53 combined tackles in 2018.

 
Earl Thomas, Baltimore Ravens
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

With his uncanny ability to roam the secondary freely for interceptions, it's easy to forget Thomas hits pretty hard too. When healthy, Thomas is an All-Pro candidate, which is an honor he's earned three times during his 10-year career.

 
22 of 25

Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks

Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Legion of Boom is entirely gone in Seattle, fans can appreciate how great Wagner is at linebacker. He's always among the leaders in tackles and has made four of the last five All-Pro teams. Wagner is four tackles away from 1,000 in his career despite the fact he's only played 105 games.

 
J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

No explanation is needed for this player. Watt has won three Defensive Player of the Year Awards and earned five All-Pro nominations, making him an obvious choice for any defensive accolade. From 2014 to 2015, he amassed 38 sacks, 58 tackles for loss and 101 quarterback hits.

 
24 of 25

T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, J.J.'s little brother isn't half bad either. Watt has come into his own with the Steelers, continuing their tradition of hard-hitting linebackers. T.J. Watt has 21 sacks and 38 quarterback hits in 33 career games.

 
25 of 25

Eric Weddle, Los Angeles Rams

Eric Weddle, Los Angeles Rams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Known as one of the smartest safeties in the league, Weddle can deliver big hits too. Since becoming a starter in 2008, he's averaged 92 combined tackles per season.

Dave Holcomb began working as a sports writer in 2013 after graduating from Syracuse University. Over the past six years, he has covered the NFL, NHL, MLB, fantasy sports, college football and basketball, and New Jersey high school sports for numerous print and online publications. Follow Holcomb on Twitter at @dmholcomb.



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