Pittsburgh Steelers star pass rusher TJ Watt was the clear pick for top EDGE rusher in football, according to Pro Football Focus.
PFF’s Sam Monson worked his way through position rankings at the height of the offseason, giving Watt the advantage over the Cleveland Browns’ star defensive end Myles Garrett and placing Watt at the top of the top flight at the position Monson ranked as a DPOY candidate designated.
Along with Watt and Garrett, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, Los Angeles Chargers’ Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers’ EDGE, the Bosa brothers’ Joey and Nick, and Las Vegas Raiders breakout star Maxx Crosby held spots in the top league.
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However, according to Monson, Watt was the right choice for first place.
“Few NFL arguments are as explosive as who is the better edge rusher: TJ Watt or Myles Garrett. Watt is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, but Garrett posted the better PFF score and pressure rating last season and had several other stats in his favor,” Monson writes. “Ultimately, both players are phenomenal and have been for several years, but Watt gets top spot in the leaderboard just because he holds his peak for a longer stretch of games.
“Between a suspension for hitting Mason Rudolph with his own helmet and a bout of COVID-19 that impacted his effectiveness for part of the 2020 season, Garrett was simply unable to sustain the scintillating gameplay that Watts had a range over such a long period,” added Monson. “However, in every game or even every season, Garrett is quite capable of being better. For the past two seasons, these two edge-rushers have ranked #1 and #2 in the PFF class, separated by just a tenth of a rating point (91.9 for Garrett to 91.8 for Watt). They rank first and third in pass rush win rate, and no edge rusher has more sacks than Watts.”
Overall, it’s certainly an interesting argument, but the two play different positions and have different overall responsibilities. However, when it comes to pure pass rushing, Watt has been more successful than Garrett throughout his career: that much can’t be argued. Statistics prove it.
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Honestly, it shouldn’t be much of a discussion until Garrett has earned a DPOY. In fact, Watt should be coming off his second straight DPOY award after being snubbed for Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald in 2020.
While Watt clearly tops the charts when it comes to EDGE games in the NFL, it came as a bit of a surprise that Alex Highsmith, EDGE in the Steelers’ third year, didn’t make the top 32 for that overall position, compared to Monson. Highsmith made a nice step forward in his first full season as a starter, showing a wealth of pass rush moves over Watt.
That could be fuel for Highsmith to prove a doubter like PFF wrong in a pivotal third season.