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The NFL Honors award ceremony is tonight at 9 p.m. ET, and it's expected that T.J. Watt will be named Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. The only two players who might get the award over Watt are Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Cowboys inside linebacker Micah Parsons. Parsons is a rookie, so he's a lock to win Rookie Defensive Player of the Year, but he should finish no lower than third for the league DPOY award.
Parsons was recently on Taylor Rooks' podcast and was asked if he should win DPOY, and he gave the nod to Watt.
"I would definitely take the claim on Defensive Rookie of the Year," Parsons said. "Defensive Player of the Year is tough because T.J. Watt did have a crazy year. Those last three games he went just berserk. He was hungry for it. So, I wouldn't be mad, you know what I'm saying? I'm just happy for right now to be in that conversation, but speaking of next year, I'm definitely going to be gunning for it."
Watt recorded 22.5 sacks in 2021, a figure that tied Michael Strahan for the NFL single-season sack record. Along with leading the league in sacks, Watt also led the NFL in tackles for loss with 21. It was the second consecutive year that Watt led the league in sacks and tackles for loss.
Watt is one of only two players in NFL history to have 20 plus sacks in 14 or fewer games since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. The only other one to do it was Hall of Famer Reggie White, who had 21 sacks in 12 games in 1987 in a strike-shortened season.
Watt was named to the Pro Bowl for the fourth consecutive season and was voted as the Steelers' MVP by his teammates for the third straight year. This is the third consecutive year that Watt's been named first-team All-Pro.
Watt was selected as the Pro Football Writers of America Defensive Player of the Year. This suggests that Watt will be named NFL DPOY by the AP, which is the official award, as six of the last seven players to win DPOY from the PFWA have also won the AP award. Watt was also named first-team All-Pro unanimously by the AP in 2021, which is another sign that he should win DPOY.