Is there a defensive lineman better than J.J. Watt?


Right now the consensus among experts is that Watt is the best defensive lineman and player in all of football. But there is one who dares to disagree.

There is the status quo. There are those who repeat it and do everything they can to reinforce it. Then there are those who are willing to say the opposite. Recently, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports claimed that it was not J.J. Watt who has been the best defensive player in the league this season, but St. Louis Rams Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald.

Donald, the second year pro out of the University of Pittsburgh, has been stellar so far with the Rams. He is stout at 6-1, 285 but he is quick and moves well in space. He also rushes the passer as well as any three technique in the league, as evidenced by his 11 sacks this season. That also needs to be considered in light of the fact the Rams have not had All-Pro pass rusher Robert Quinn most of the this season. As a result, Donald has drawn a lot more double teams. But he has learned to fight them off, due in large part to the use of his hands, which is a central point of Prisco’s argument. You can read the full article here.

Writing for the Texans it is easy to say that Watt is the best and not even listen to any outside voice. But there are some points that need to be addressed. He may have some slight advantages on Watt in some areas, but the body types of the two players make them hard to compare. Watt is taller and therefore more disruptive in passing lanes and in batting down passes. Donald is certainly a powerful rusher inside, but Watt also has an array of moves he can use to rush the passer. Both are high effort guys who play the run well, and right now even I would say are the two best defensive linemen in the league. But I think Watt has a more complete game and a more proven resume right now. I still put Watt at the top, but Donald is moving up quickly.