There have been 27 players in NFL history who have recorded 20 sacks over the course of their first two seasons in the NFL, according to Pro Football Reference, since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt became the 27th player to do it in 2018, the first Steelers player to do so.
Joining him in doing it this year was Myles Garrett, the first-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Missing five games in his first two years, he wound up with 20.5 sacks, half a sack ahead of Watt for the most in their draft class.
Another two players also reached the 20-sack mark within their first two seasons during the 2017 season, those being Joey Bosa and Yannick Ngakoue. Aaron Donald did it in 2015, the first since three players—Aldon Smith, Von Miller, and J.J. Watt—all did it in 2012. Jason Pierre-Paul and Clay Matthews also reached 20 in 2011 and 2010, respectively, so 10 of the 27 players have done it within the past decade.
Watt, a first-round pick by the Steelers in 2017, started 15 games in his rookie season. He started off his career with a game in which he recorded two sacks and intercepted a pass, though he wouldn’t finish the year off in such glamorous and explosive fashion. He would end his rookie season with seven sacks.
This season was another matter. While he certainly had some dry spells in production, he recorded 13 sacks on the year, with several multi-sack games mixed in for good measure, including two games in which he had three.
Watt had two three-game stretches in which he did not record a sack. The first came after the season opener in which he recorded three sacks against the Cleveland Browns. The second came after a two-sack game that gave him 10 sacks on the season, the first double-digit sack season for an outside linebacker in over half a decade.
But he followed that up with some of his best play to date. He ended the season on a three-game sack streak, bringing down Tom Brady and Drew Brees—and Jeff Driskel—to finish things off. That brought him up to 13 on the year, the most by any Steelers player since LaMarr Woodley in 2009.
Will Watt become a double-digit sack performer for the Steelers? They kind of need him to be. For the record, there have only been 20 seasons in which a player has recorded double-digit sacks in team history.
Nobody has done it more than three times. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley each did it in three consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2010. Jason Gildon also did it three times. Kevin Greene and Joey Porter at linebacker and Keith Willis at defensive end had two double-digit seasons. Cameron Heyward, Chad Brown, Greg Lloyd, Mike Merriweather, and Watt round out the group.