STL: Could Watt be best defensive player ever?
J.J. Watt is coming off of a monster season in 2012. There's no doubt about that.
The then-23-year-old had 20.5 sacks, 16 passes defensed, 107 tackles (39 for loss), 42 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was the Defensive Player of the Year.
The normal stats speak for themselves, but if you want to see how he graded out on a play-by-play basis, his ProFootballFocus grade of 101.7 was the highest they've ever awarded.
See, Watt is good. Very good. He was great last season. But Brian Cushing talked to ESPN's John Clayton and said Watt could eventually be the greatest defensive player ever.
For whatever reason, that statement ripped through Twitter on Tuesday morning leaving some folks worried Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor and Bruce Smith would be forgotten forever.
Cushing didn't say Watt was the greatest ever. He didn't say Watt would be. He said Watt could be if things continue.
Here's the full quote from Cushing on Watt:
"He's incredible. There's no other word for him. You won't hear me talk too many guys up; it's hard to get me to give you credit. But, I mean, he's one of those guys that, he's truly the best at what he does.
"The combination, the speed the power, how he plays, endurance, smarts and the scary part is it's his second year. He hasn't even hit his peak yet. The things that he's going to be able to accomplish are unbelievable.
"When you talk about the potential that he has of really maybe being the greatest defensive player ever, he could be. And I know that's very premature but he's that kind of player and I think that if he just keeps doing what he's doing and obviously stays healthy, he's on that track."
For the record, it's definitely too early to talk about Watt's legacy. He just turned 24 and just completed his second season in the NFL. But talking about potential? Sure, why not?
In two seasons, Watt is off to a fantastic start to his career, but sustained greatness hasn't been achieved; he's years from that.
White has 12 seasons with double-digit sack totals. In his third year in the league, he had 21 sacks in 12 games (he also forced four fumbles that season).
What's interesting is that White never had a 20-sack season again. In fact, no player has ever had two 20-sack seasons. Certainly, it seems, Watt has a chance to be the first to do that.
But White's an all-time great. And Watt isn't. Not yet. But he could be, maybe, eventually.
Three weeks till training camp.