Updated: Jul 23
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt has finished second and third in voting for Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press the last two years. Many believe the AP snubbed Watt last season by selecting Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald as DPOY over him.
The numbers suggest that Watt should have won the award too. In 15 games, Watt led the league in sacks (15), tackles for a loss (23) and quarterback hits (41).
In comparison, Donald finished the season tied for second with 13.5 sacks and was tied for sixth in tackles for loss (14) and tied for fifth in quarterback hits (27). While Watt and Donald play two different positions, it's still hard to deny that Watt had a better season in 2020.
Watt is right on the cusp of being named DPOY. He might need to record 20 sacks in a season to do so, however. But he's without a doubt one of the best defensive players in the game, so it came as no surprise that he ranked 11th in Pro Football Focus' 50 best players in the NFL list.
"Watt has been right on the verge of Defensive Player of the Year levels over the last two seasons and may well have won one by now if not for the perennially absurd play of Aaron Donald," Sam Monson wrote. "Over that same period, Watt has earned the highest overall PFF grade among all edge rushers (92.6) as well as the best pass-rushing grade (92.2). He leads all edge rushers with 12 batted passes and even has three interceptions to his name. Watt has become a dominant force on the edge for Pittsburgh and consistently looks to be one of the very best players in the league."
Watt was the fourth-highest ranked defensive player by PFF, as they had Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack and the aforementioned Donald ranked ahead of him. Donald ranked No. 1 overall on PFF's list.