Both have led their respective defensive units to new heights in 2012 through outstanding individual performances that have made those around them even better. Tillman shuts down any receiver he covers, while Watt strikes fear into every quarterback he encounters.
While there are a variety of impact defensive players throughout the NFL, none are close to Tillman or Watt's level at this point.
It's difficult to compare a cornerback to a defensive lineman in theory, but it becomes simple when analyzing their overall impact on the outcomes of games. Let's take a look at who is the most dominant out of Tillman and Watt.
The Case For J.J. Watt
If Tillman is a veteran finally getting his due, J.J. Watt is blossoming into a superstar that deserves every bit of praise leveled his way so far.
Watt was solid in his rookie season a year ago with 5.5 sacks and 56 total tackles, but has been exceptional in eight games in his second year, recording 39 tackles and 10.5 sacks.
Statistics aside, Watt changes drives on almost every play despite being double-teamed in the trenches. Watt has defended 10 passes already going into the Week 9 matchup with the Buffalo Bills, as he excels at getting his hands up and swatting passes down.
Watt not only tips passes and causes incompletions—the tips have routinely have been intercepted by his teammates in the secondary playing behind him. He's a game-changer in every sense of the word despite only being in his second year.
The Case for Charles Tillman
Charles Tillman has been playing at an MVP level for most of the season while leading the Bears to an almost-pristine 7-1 record.
Opposing quarterbacks are afraid to throw at Tillman, and when they do "Peanut" makes them pay. So far this season, Tillman has recorded 43 tackles, two interceptions and a ridiculous seven forced fumbles.
Not only does Tillman shut down elite receivers such as the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson, he is also a force against the run and consistently manages to strip the ball-carrier and allow his offense to get the ball back.
Tillman is 31 years old and has been one of the most criminally underrated players in his 10-year career, but he's having a coming-out party this year. It may be too little too late, but Tillman is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Who Is the Most Dominant Defensive Player in the NFL?
The most dominant defensive player in the NFL today, and likely the eventual winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, is Houston Texans' defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
While Charles Tillman is arguably the best cornerback playing in the NFL today, Watt has more of an impact on the outcome of a game each and every time his team takes the field.
Watt is unblockable and has an endless motor that not only allows him to disrupt passing plays by sacking the quarterback, but he also disrupts plays by having excellent awareness that allows him to swat down passes at the line of scrimmage with alarming consistency.
The best defensive player in the league is one who not only changes games with regularity, but also makes those around him much better.
That player in 2012 resides in Houston, and his name is J.J. Watt.