Three things you need in today’s NFL are: a great quarterback, a franchise-caliber offensive lineman, and high-level pass rushers.
That’s exactly what littered the top 10 of Pro Football Focus’s PFF50 Friday morning, as four quarterbacks, two offensive linemen and two elite-level pass rushers landed inside the top 10 compiled by Sam Monson. The quarterbacks included Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady, Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, while the offensive linemen included San Francisco’s Trent Williams and Dallas’ Zach Martin.
Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles Rams’ star Aaron Donald landed the No. 1 spot again, but it was curious where Pittsburgh Steelers’ star outside linebacker and reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt landed in Monson’s rankings.
Watt, coming off of a season in which he tied the NFL’s single-season sacks record with 22.5, earned a third straight First Team All-Pro accolade and a fourth straight Pro Bowl berth, cracked the top 10 at No. 7 overall, falling behind Donald at No. 1, Williams at No. 2, Rodgers at No. 3, Las Vegas Raiders’ wide receiver Davante Adams at No. 4, and Mahomes and Allen at No. 5 and 6, respectively.
Not sure I’d put Adams over Watt when it comes to the best players in the NFL, but that’s what Monson went with Friday morning.
“Over the past two seasons, Watt leads the league in sacks and sack rate despite rushing the passer over 450 fewer times than some of the players behind him,” Monson writes regarding Watt’s ranking at No. 7 overall. “He also has an exceptional knack for making other plays, batting 12 passes and forcing seven fumbles over that span. Watt is an impact player who is playing as well as any edge rusher in the league right now.”
It’s remarkable to read that Watt has led the league in sacks and sack rate over the last two years despite rushing the passer more than 450 fewer times than some other pass rushers in the same stratosphere as him. That stat right there sums up Watt’s overall dominance in just a few words.
He’s truly otherworldly.
It’s not just the sack numbers of the sack rate with Watt. Though he tends to freelance a bit as a run defender, leading to some big gains on his side of the defense, he’s an exception run defender overall, one that is consistently in the backfield disrupting plays before they can truly get started.
Add in the fact that he’s also a sound coverage defender as well, one that can get his hands up in passing lanes at the line of scrimmage or make plays on the football dropping into space, he’s a complete package overall, one that is a true game-wrecker defensively.
Seventh overall feels a bit low for Watt, especially coming off the season he just had, but seeing him as the No. 1 EDGE defender in Monson’s rankings is correct overall, so it feels like splitting hairs taking issue with his spot in the top 10.