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Steelers’ Defensive Duo Named To PFF’s All-Collinsworth Team

The post-season accolades keep rolling in for Pittsburgh Steelers’ star defensive players Cameron Heyward and TJ Watt.

After both earned First Team All-Pro honors for their efforts in the 2021 season, and Watt earned the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award thanks to his single-season record-tying 22.5 sacks, the duo added another accolade to their resumes Friday morning: First Team All-Collinsworth awardees from Pro Football Focus.ย 

The All-Collinsworth Team is exactly what it sounds like: a team of top players from the 2021 season from the perspective of Pro Football Focus founder, former NFL receiver and current Sunday Night Football color analyst Chris Collinsworth.

It should come as no surprise that Heyward and Watt cracked the first team, especially after hearing how Collinsworth has gushed about the two any time he calls a Steelers’ game.

Heyward landed on the first team along the interior defensive line with Los Angeles Rams’ star Aaron Donald.

“It sounds crazy, but you can make a case that Heyward was the best defender on the Steelers this year,” Collinsworth writes. “His 90.0 run-defense grade was better than Donald’s mark, and his 61 pressures were only six fewer thanย T.J. Watt, who took home Defensive Player of the Year honors.”

Based off of PFF grades, Heyward was a better defender than Watt in Pittsburgh in 2021. You’d be hard pressed to truly try and make that case overall though, considering how disruptive Watt was each and every week he was on the field after becoming the NFL’s highest paid defensive player in training camp.

Make no mistake though: Heyward is one the very best interior defensive linemen in football and continues to get better and better with age, which is astonishing.

With Heyward holding down the interior defensive line with Donald, Watt was named to the first team at edge defender, joining Cleveland’s Myles Garrett on the first team at the position.

“Sacks are worth almost two points and matter a great deal in determining the outcome of football games, and Watt tied the NFL record in the category this season,” Collinsworth writers. “For that reason alone, he is a first-ballot All-Collinsworth player. His 89.5 overall grade ranked fourth at the position.”

We can debate forever and ever the Garrett vs. Watt debate for the league’s very best edge defender in football. For my money, it’s Watt โ€” backed by the league’s DPOY award โ€” but there’s no denying the two are great, dominant players at their respective positions and are on Hall of Fame trajectories.

 

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