Former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times, knows a thing or two about defense.
Speaking at Fiterman Sports Memorabilia at Houston's Baybrook Mall on Saturday, Taylor gave his thoughts on talented Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who is the only other player to win the coveted defensive award three times, per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
"That J.J. Watt is a bad SOB," Taylor said. "He's going to get it a couple of more times. I think he's one of these guys that only comes around once every 20 to 30 years."
The brash Taylor wouldn't go as far as to say Watt was better than him, but the 57-year-old thinks he's not far behind, per McClain:
In front of me I see guys like Reggie White (and) Deacon Jones. Do I put J.J. in front of me? No, but the guy is a phenomenal player. He can go down as one of the best players to ever play his position. Every time I watch film on him or I see a game he's playing in, the first thing that comes to my mind is this guy can go all day.
Watt has been racking up the personal accolades in his five years in the NFL, earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods the past four years. He has 74.5 sacks and led the league in the category in 2012 and 2015.
Taylor's 132.5 sacks tie him for 13th on the all-time NFL sack list, and he won two Super Bowl rings, the 1986 NFL MVP award and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also had nine interceptions, two regular-season defensive touchdowns and one TD in the playoffs.
Watt's Texans teams are just 2-3 in the playoffs, and he took second place in MVP voting in 2014. Taylor continued his praise of the 27-year-old but said Watt hasn't quite reached the success he did, per McClain:
Now the question is, will he become the Most Valuable Player of the league? That's one I have on him. The year I won MVP we won the Super Bowl. They wanted to call me the greatest defensive player of all time. He can put up numbers, and he can be one of the greatest players that ever played (but), you've got to be able to take your team to a title.
Jared Dubin of CBSSports.com wrote Sunday that Watt is one of the best at his position in years: "He can already affect the game as much as any defensive player in a long time, and it's got to feel good for him that one of the best ever recognizes just how good he is."
It's hard to argue with Taylor simply because he was one of the most productive, electrifying and hard-hitting defensive players of his era.
It's also hard to argue against Watt's numbers at this point, as most fans are in agreement he is the best defensive player in the league. With another decade or so left in Watt's career, it will be interesting to see just how those numbers stack up to Taylor's when he hangs up his cleats.