Where Does JJ Watt Rank Amongst NFL's Top 10 Defensive Players?

Jeremy SickelContributor IIIOctober 15, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 14:  J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans sacks  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter at Reliant Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is off to an amazing start to the 2012 season and is arguably the primary reason the team sits at 5-1 heading into its Week 7 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.

His 9.5 sacks are tops in the NFL and his eight passes defended are tied for eighth. In fact, Watt is the only non-defensive back in the top 35 in batted balls.

No one knew what to expect from the Texans defense without defensive end Mario Williams, who signed with the Buffalo Bills this past offseason. But even after allowing the Green Bay Packers to roll up 427 yards in Sunday's 42-24 loss, Houston still ranks sixth in total yards allowed at 300.8 and eighth in points at 19.2 per game.

Though Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to throw for 338 yards and six touchdowns, Watt is definitely not to blame. He still tallied two sacks, three quarterback hits and six total tackles—four for a loss—in the game.

Without Watt, the Texans defense is middle-of-the-pack. With him, however, and Houston is one of the most complete teams in the entire league.

So where does Watt rank amongst the NFL's elite defensive players?

While he may only be in his second year, he is certainly in the discussion. There isn't another player in the league right now dominating the way Watt is.

Although it is very subjective based on positional expectations, players like Clay Matthews, Patrick Willis, Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed are all in the conversation too. Their production, longevity and leadership are all unquestioned.

To break through and standout in a short list of players worthy of being named the best in the league, Watt will either need to continue at his current pace this season or perform at  a high level for a couple more years.

Regardless, Watt is invaluable to the Texans' plans this season.


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