Could Steelers OLB T.J. Watt become as dominant as J.J. Watt?

Tommy Jaggi
T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

All three Watt brothers will be on the field together on Sunday as the Steelers host the Texans. Could T.J. Watt become as dominant as his oldest brother?

The Steelers are going to make history again on Sunday afternoon. After playing a game against the Buffalo Bills that featured three Edmunds brothers last year, Pittsburgh will look to do the same as T.J. Watt, Derek Watt, and J.J. Watt all take the field for the same game this weekend at Heinz Field.

T.J. has been fantastic for the Steelers. The former 2017 first-round draft choice has more than lived up to the hype that comes with his last name. He has made drastic improvements in each of his first three seasons, and is now widely considered Pittsburgh’s best overall player and one of the best defenders in the National Football League.

Could the Steelers star be as good as his brother?

Clearly, the brother I’m referring to here is J.J. – the 5-time first-team All-Pro, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, and future Hall of Famer. In just his second NFL sesaon, J.J. earned 20.5 sacks and an astounding 39 tackles for a loss, according to Pro Football Reference.

After his first five seasons in the league, Watt was arguably the most dominant defensive player the NFL has ever seen. From 2012-2015 Watt earned 69.0 sacks – blowing every other defender out of the water over this stretch. Unfortunately, injuries started to mount up for Watt in 2016, and he has played just 34 games in the past five years.

T.J. Watt didn’t have quite the same impressive start. Though it didn’t take long for him to turn heads after earning 34.5 sacks in his first three NFL seasons and finishing as one of the top candidates for the AP Defensive Player of the Year award, T.J. was still slightly behind the pace of his big brother.

So far in 2020, T.J. looks like the more dominant player of the two, as he has earned the top defensive grade though two weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. However, at this point, it could be expected. J.J. is now 31 years old and has played just one healthy season since 2015, while T.J. hasn’t even reached his peak yet at 25 years old.

While the Steelers defensive star is currently on a Hall of Fame pace entering his fourth NFL season, the truth is it’s highly unlikely that he can reach his brother’s status in the league. Not only was J.J. arguably the best defensive lineman the league has seen, but he was widely considered the most valuable non-quarterback player in the league over a four or five-year stretch.

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T.J. Watt has already left his mark on this league, and he will continue to do so for many years. At this rate, his name will someday be alongside his oldest brother’s in the Hall of Fame. But considering that J.J. is quite possibly the most dominant defensive player the NFL has had, it’s probably safe to say that T.J. will end up being a step below that when it’s all said and done.