The actual All-Pro list is a long way away still, and even later in the season, Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro list won’t ever hold any weight. Nevertheless, it is still nice to see that two members of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense were recognized for inclusion on the list for their play through the first three weeks of the season.
As you might guess, fourth-year outside linebacker T.J. Watt heads the list for the Steelers, making the first-team All-Pro team as the top edge defender, along with Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns, who currently leads the NFL with five sacks. Sam Monson writes about Watt:
T.J. Watt had a strong case a season ago for Defensive Player of the Year. Apparently, he’s determined to claim it this season in case we weren’t paying attention in 2019. Even though he has played in only three games compared to most players’ four, he ranks fifth among edge rushers with 18 total pressures. He also has an interception to his name, as he recognized a quick-game pass, cut underneath it and snagged a turnover. Watt has the best pass-rush win rate (29.6%) of any edge rusher in the game and has had three straight games with a PFF grade above 90.0 to open his year.
Cameron Heyward was also included on the All-Pro list, although he was named to the second team rather than the first. The two interior defenders who made the cut ahead of him were Deforest Buckner of the Indianapolis Colts and, of course, Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams. Vita Vea of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined Heyward on the seconds team.
As far as the actual All-Pro List goes, both Watt and Heyward made the first team last year and were joined by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The latter has so far found it difficult to get into position to make splash plays, however, and in fact it has been 10 games since he has last produced a takeaway.
Through three games, Watt only has nine tackles, but five had been for a loss. He has three and a half sacks with 10 quarterback hits, with an interception and two passes defensed. As for Heyward, he has six tackles on the season with one for a loss, splitting half a sack with five hits. He also has an interception and a pass defensed.
Stephon Tuitt likely drew consideration as well. He has six tackles on the season with two for a loss, with two sacks and seven hits. I also wonder how close Mike Hilton came to consideration for the defensive ‘flex’ position, which went to Xavier Rhodes, and J.C. Jackson as the second-team representative.