2. T.J. Watt, EDGE
It makes me sad to know that T.J. Watt hasn't played completely healthy since the 2020 season. In 2021, Watt dealt with recurring hip, knee, and groin injuries, but was somehow still able to tie the single-season sack record and lock down Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Last year, Watt landed on IR for nearly half the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Collectively throughout his career since 2017, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a dismal 1-10 when Watt does not play, and they have even more losses in several games where he has been forced to exit the contest early.
Though we presume the depth at edge defender will be much improved this year with players like Nick Herbig and Markus Golden backing up Watt and Highsmith, this is still a player the team simply cannot afford to lose, and the results without him speak for itself.
Up until last year, you could have gone as far as to say that T.J. Watt was the single most important player to the franchise. The difference when he was on the field and when he wasn't was night and day. We just hope he can finally stay healthy for a full 17-game season in 2023 and play at full strength. If he can, look out! The Steelers are almost sure to finish with a top defense and could be playoff-bound following the 2023 season.