T.J. Watt is the highest-ranked Pittsburgh Steeler in this year’s version of the NFL’s Top 100, coming in at #6 overall. It’s the best finish he’s ever had on this list.
Watt’s high-ranking comes as little surprise. One of the most dominant players in the game and reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Watt is coming off a 2021 season in which he tied the NFL’s single-season sack record with 22.5 sacks. He added 64 total tackles, 21 of them for a loss, with seven pass deflections and five forced fumbles to take home his first ever DPOY award.
You can check out Watt’s video along with his ranking by clicking the link here.
A year ago, he ranked ninth overall. He first made the list in 2019 at #93 before leaping to #25 for the 2020 edition. He was the second-highest ranked defender on the list, only trailing Rams’ DT Aaron Donald but running ahead of CB Jalen Ramsey (#9) and DE Myles Garrett (#11).
Watt’s work ethic, hand usage, effort, and underrated athleticism make him a force off the edge. He changes the way offenses are structured, forcing tight ends to stay in or at least chip him and causing the line to slide his way to give the tackle additional help. Watt picked up where he left off in his preseason debut, recording a sack in last night’s win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After playing hurt for most of last season, Watt has a legitimate chance to break the sack-record in 2022. He’s also looking to become the first player in league history to lead the NFL in sacks three years in a row.
Watt and Cam Heyward were the only two Steelers to crack the Top 100 list. Heyward finished 42nd overall, also a career-best for him. Minkah Fitzpatrick was snubbed after finishing 52nd a year ago. No offensive player made the list though that’s less of a shock, though there was a case to be made for RB Najee Harris or WR Diontae Johnson in that 90-100 range. Johnson finished in the honorable mention category at #110 while Harris was off entirely. Ditto with Minkah Fitzpatrick, who fell over 70 spots compared to a year ago.
UPDATE (11:10 PM): Here’s the top ten with QB Tom Brady taking the top spot.