Yes, putting a rookie on this list is a stretch, but T.J. Watt is already impressing during OTAs and could very well find himself leading this Steelers pass rush in his first season. With Bud Dupree and James Harrison alongside him, he’ll have to put up crazy numbers for a rookie to outshine both of them, but from what we’ve seen, that’s very capable.
In Still Curtain’s “Three Bold Predictions for the 2017 season,” T.J. Watt was projected to lead the team in sacks. At the time, that was a stretch, but now, it’s very realistic. After watching his athleticism and strength as only a 22-year-old rookie, Watt’s future is ridiculously promising.
As long as defenses don’t pick on the rookie, which will be nearly impossible without leaving other stars open for big plays, Watt could easily earn himself a 10-plus sack season. Even if he plays behind James Harrison, he’ll be able to step in and make an impact on each play he’s on the field.
His excitement level on the field is what’s going to land him a Pro Bowl spot. He’s a lot of fun to watch, and if he can make plays as a rookie, he’ll earn brownie points with voters just because he’s a successful rookie.