One of the biggest topics of discussion this time of year involves NFL player rankings. Prior to the start of training camps, major media Outlets love dropping their positional rankings ahead of the upcoming season. These are especially intriguing when it is Executives, coaches, in players who are comprising these rankings.
Recently, a panel of NFL Scouts in coaches ranked the best interior defenders in the NFL, and they believe that Cameron Hayward is starting to decline. His 9th overall place among interior defenders seemed a bit disrespectful to the Pittsburgh Steelers star. Now executives, coaches, and players have weighed in on the edge defender position.
Last year, T.J. Watt was the highest-ranked edge rushers in the NFL, according to the panel of coaches, executives, and players, per ESPN. However, it's not surprising to see him dip on the list this year.
Where does T.J. Watt fall in EDGE rankings?
According to the ESPN rankings from Jeremy Fowler, executives, coaches, and players have collectively decided that Watt is the 4th-best edge defender in the NFL entering the 2023 season. this is a drop of three spots from last year where he topped the list, and injuries no doubt played a factor here.
But despite landing on IR with a pectoral injury, what still earned respect on this list. One NFC executive still calls what 'the best in the game' when healthy -- claiming that 'Watt is to edge Rush what [Aaron] Donald is to interior.' Fowler adds that it wouldn't shock if he regained the top spot on this list again next year.
The only three names ahead of Watt on this list were Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett, and Micah Parsons. Based on health and performance during the 2022 season, it's hard to argue against the three names ahead of Watt on the list entering 2023. However, Watt's impact when he's on the field is undeniable, and the Pittsburgh Steelers struggled mightily when he was injured.
Cameron Hayward recently voiced his frustration with the disrespect he has been receiving this offseason. The former All-Pro defender still believes he is the very best in the game and he uses rankings like these as fuel to the fire. Now T.J. Watt will no doubt do the same.
Once considered a potential generational player based on how dominant he was over three years span from 2019 to 2021, what seems to be flying under the radar after an injury-plagued 2022 season. At 28 years old, Watt is still in the prime of his NFL career, and, assuming he's healthy, he will prove doubters wrong in 2023.