ESPN surveyed nearly 60 team executives, scouts, coaches and players to determine the top ten players at each position, and unveiled their edge rusher rankings on Monday.
According to ESPN’s polling, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt clocked in as the second-best pass rusher in the NFL entering the 2021 season.
Watt’s relentlessness and attention to detail have separated him as one of the best defenders in all of football.
“Incredibly productive player in every phase,” an anonymous NFC executive told ESPN. “Probably has the best combination of motor and smarts in the league. He wins with intelligence, effort, technique, positioning.”
Another voter echoed a similar sentiment regarding Watt’s game.
“The truth is he might not be the best athlete at his own position,” an anonymous NFC defensive coach told ESPN, referring to his former teammate Bud Dupree. “He’s not the most explosive guy. But he’s so damn relentless and smart and technically perfect that he just wins. He’ll probably have a Hall of Fame career for all those reasons.”
Watt finished as the runner up for NFL Defensive Player of the Year a season ago, but does already have three consecutive Pro Bowl nods and back-to-back First-Team All-Pro selections to his name.
He led the league with both 15 sacks and 23 tackles-for-loss in 2020. He paced the NFL with eight forced fumbles in 2019.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett claimed the top spot in ESPN’s rankings.