Steelers star T.J. Watt insulted in PFF's top 32 edge defender rankings

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

For the third time in the past four seasons, T.J. Watt led the NFL in sacks in 2023. This might have been four years in a row had he not torn his pectoral muscle in Week 1 of the 2022 season. The individual accomplishments are on par with any player of his generation, as Watt is a four-time First-Team All-Pro and former Defensive Player of the Year award winner.

When the 2023 DPOY award was handed to Myles Garrett, Watt was second in voting and Steelers fans were outraged. If you didn't like that, you're not going to like where Pro Football Focus has Watt landing in their edge defender rankings.

Recently, PFF's NFL Draft expert, Trevor Sikkema, ranked the top 32 edge defenders in the NFL ahead of the 2024 season. Watt came in 4th on the list. Here's what Sikkema had to say about Watt's ranking.

Watt led the NFL in sacks in 2023 (19) and placed fourth in pass-rush grade (91.7). Watt’s 16.2% pass-rush win rate is what puts him fourth on this list, but he’s still in Tier 1 for his consistent one-on-one success."

Trevor Sikkema, Pro Football Focus

Garrett, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, earned the top spot on PFF's list, followed by Micah Parsons and Nick Bosa. Watt narrowly edged out Maxx Crosby and Aidan Hutchinson. Fellow Steelers EDGE Alex Highsmith earned the 19th spot on the list.

While I case can be made for each of the top five edge rushers to land the top spot, Watt landing 4th in the EDGE rankings is sure to stir up controversy. This came following a season in which he recorded 68 tackles, 19.0 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, 36 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles, 1 interception, and a defensive touchdown.

Watt also earned a 91.9 overall grade from PFF while being credited with 86 pressures -- the same number that Garrett earned during the 2023 season.

Steelers still have a treasure in T.J. Watt

Regardless of where T.J. Watt falls in Pro Football Focus' edge defender rankings entering the 2024 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers still have a special player on their hands. Though Watt may not generate as much quick pressure as players like Garrett and Parsons, he's a monster in his own right who does wonders for his defense.

In addition to Watt's unmatched raw production last season, the Steelers ranked 7th in Defense EPA/play and 15th in Defense DVOA. This was despite a plethora of roster holes on defense.

Watt will turn 30 years old in October, and for the first time in his playing career, he admitted that he feels old. Fortunately, he has yet to show signs of slowing down on the football field, and we could be in store for another All-Pro season from Watt in 2024.