You don’t have to tell Pittsburgh Steelers fans how good T.J. Watt is. Trust me, they know. In just his third year in the league, Watt has become a force as a pass rusher, and is now in conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
After winning the team Most Valuable Player award in 2019, Watt continues to rack up accolades along with a Pro Bowl bid and multiple All-Pro nominations. In a recent ESPN+ article where experts ranked the top player, and surprise, at every position, Watt took home the top EDGE pass rusher honors.
See what they had to say about the former Wisconsin product:
Best overall: T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Watt brothers have wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks for what feels like the better portion of the last decade because, well, they have. T.J. takes the mantle as the highest-graded edge defender this season just a year after his brother J.J. Watt made a triumphant return to the top of the charts in 2018. The younger Watt finished the season with 81 total pressures, including a whopping 37 combined sacks and hits, as well as 44 additional hurries. He also led all edge defenders with eight forced fumbles and six passes batted at the line of scrimmage.
Those are some incredible grades for Watt, and when you consider how it is just his third year in the league the sky literally is the limit for the pass rusher.
But believe it or not, Watt was not the only player who received acknowledgement in this particular article. The Steelers also had a player who was considered the league’s “Biggest Surprise” along the interior defensive line.
That player? None other than Tyson Alualu.
See what they had to say about Alualu’s play in the absence of Stephon Tuitt.
Biggest surprise: Tyson Alualu, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ten years into an NFL career feels like enough of a sample, but that wasn’t the case this year with 2010 first-rounder Alualu. His previous career-high grade for a single season was 66.5, but he shattered his previous grades in both run defense (79.9) and pass rushing (68.2) this season with the Steelers.
Alualu played extremely well, along with Javon Hargrave, after Tuitt was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle early in the season. Alualu was given a new contract last offseason, and he showed exactly why he was well worth the money with his play in 2019.
What would come as a shock to no one, the offense didn’t have anyone represented at any position, including the offensive line. However, considering top rookie grades were given out I would consider Diontae Johnson to be among those in the discussion for top rookie wide receivers. However, when you have players like DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown playing well in the playoffs, it is hard to argue with Johnson getting any type of recognition outside of just being in the discussion.
Are there any players you thought should have gotten recognition? Steven Nelson certainly comes to mind, along with Minkah Fitzpatrick. Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to follow along with BTSC during the offseason for the latest and greatest Steelers coverage on the internet.