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T.J. Watt Named Finalist for DPOY, Joey Porter Jr. Finalist for DROY

Both T.J. Watt and Joey Porter Jr. were named finalists for prestigious end of the year awards.



Pittsburgh Steelers OLB T.J. Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt in a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 3, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt was named a finalist for the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award while standout rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. is a finalist for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.

On Wednesday, Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett won the PFWA Defensive Player of the Year Award while Watt snagged the AFC Defensive Player of the Year Award by the NFL Committee of 101.

Watt had 68 tackles, compared to Garrett’s 42. Watt had 19 tackles for loss compared to Garrett’s 17. Watt had 36 quarterback hits compare to 30 for Garrett. Each had four forced fumbles, but Watt had three recoveries compared to Garrett’s one. Watt also returned one of those fumbles for the only defensive touchdown of the season between the two players, which happened to be the game-sealing play in the Week 2 game between the Steelers and Browns at Acrisure Stadium.

Where Garrett excelled was in advanced pass-rush metics peddled by Pro Football Focus and others. PFF graded Garrett as the best edge rusher in the league at 93.6. Watt was fifth at 91.9, behind Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons and Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby.

Most of that grade was attributable to Garrett’s prowess in pass rush win rate. This metric calculates how frequently a defensive player beats his opposite number, regardless of whether that impacts the play at hand. Garrett was graded as having a 27.3% win rate, the highest in the league. He was also assigned 60 hurries compared to 47 for Watt.

Other finalists for the award include Garrett, Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons, Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland, and Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby.

As for Porter, his rookie season is one for the books. Coming in about a quarter of the way through the season, Porter shadowed top receivers at as high of a rate as most number ones in the NFL. To that effect, he did it at a high level, allowing just one touchdown throughout the entire season. Other finalists for the award include Eagles defensive lineman Jalen Carter, Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon, Rams defensive lineman Kobie Turner, and Texans edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.

Kendrell Bell was the last Steelers player to win Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2001. Porter seems like a long way to win it, as Carter was the long-thought-of favorite, and Turner’s recent surge has put him square in contention to bring home the award. If Porter did win it, he would become the second straight cornerback to win it, along with Sauce Gardner.