J.J. Watt Is Best Defensive Player in NFL, but Is Anyone Else Even Close?

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IOctober 1, 2012

Sep 30, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) smiles on the sidelines against the Tennessee Titans in the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium. The Texans defeated the Titans 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

After multiple sacks in the first four games of the 2012 NFL season, Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt has staked his claim as the best defender in football. 

The second-year pro out of Wisconsin has 20 total tackles, 7.5 sacks and five pass deflections on the only undefeated club in the AFC, a club that's won three of its first four games by 20 points or more. 

Impressive? I'd say so. He's emerged as the clear Defensive Player of the Year favorite. 

The next logical question: Who is nipping at the heels of his massive cleats? 

Actually, it's 5'8'' cornerback Tim Jennings of the Chicago Bears.

The Bears secondary member has intercepted a pass in each of his team's first three games, including two in the season-opening win over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Also, Jennings has been a stingy cover corner to start the year with nine passes defended. 

Keep an eye on him—he's the true DPOY dark horse. 

But if you're looking for someone comparable in size to Watt, Clay Matthews is your guy. 

He erupted for six sacks in the Green Bay Packers' first two games but has been held to only one sack since then. 

Yes, the USC grad has been extremely disruptive, but has he been as disruptive as Watt? 

Eh. Can't go that far.

Anyone else? 

Atlanta Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud has three interceptions and four passes defended, and he has been a rangy last line of defense for Mike Smith's 4-0 club. 

A good start, yes, but not Watt-esque. 

DeMarcus Ware has 18 tackles and four sacks through three games. If he has a big showing on Monday Night Football in Week 4, he'll be in the conversation. 

It's simple, though. Right now, in terms of individual defenders in the NFL, it's J.J. Watt's world. Everyone else is just living in it. 

Yes, living in a 23-year-old's world.