Pro Football Focus ranks T.J. Watt second among edge rushers just behind Khalil Mack
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With it being the slow portion of the NFL offseason in late May, Pro Football Focus has been ranking the 32 best players at each respective position and when it came to their edge rusher rankings, they surprisingly didn't have T.J. Watt No. 1. Instead, Ben Lindsey of PFF had Bears' outside linebacker No. 1 and Watt just behind him at No. 2.
"Going purely off of pass-rushing production, it’s difficult to top what Watt has been able to do over the past two seasons in Pittsburgh," Lindsey wrote. "He leads all edge defenders in sacks (29.5) and quarterback hits (46) since 2019, falling just short of Shaquil Barrett in total pressures. Watt turned in PFF grades of 91.3 and 91.6 in those two seasons; he has developed into a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate and one of the premier edge rushers in the NFL."
While Watt has had more sacks, quarterback hits, and pressures the past two years than Mack, PFF 's wins above replacement metric is highly valued by Lindsey and is why Mack is over Watt.
"Mack falls outside the top 10 edge defenders in the NFL in total sacks over the last two seasons, but that is just one number that doesn’t reflect how dominant he has been on the field," Lindsey wrote. "PFF’s wins above replacement metric, PFF WAR, pegged Mack as the league’s most valuable edge rusher in 2020, and that dominance extends back to his rookie season in 2014. Mack has recorded an overall grade above 85.0 in each of his first seven NFL seasons."
While Mack is a great pass-rusher, it's hard to see him ranked over Watt when he's outside the top 10 among edge defenders when it comes to sacks the last two seasons. Watt has been a more complete player in that period and has become a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate. You could argue that he got snubbed from the award the last two seasons, especially this past year over Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, as Watt led the league in sacks (15), tackles for a loss (23) and quarterback hits (41). Watt also has 53 total tackles, 43 of those being solos, two forced fumbles, seven passes defended and one interception.