Lawrence Taylor: JJ Watt already a top-four all-time defender

Where does J.J. Watt rank among football's best defensive players of all time?
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Lawrence Taylor already ranks J.J. Watt as one of the top four defensive players of all time.

Yes, you read that correctly. All. Time.

Speaking about the dominance he’s seen from Watt at a Houston-area appearance Saturday, Taylor was effusive with his praise. He put just two defenders in front of himself on the all-time list and placed Watt right behind him at No. 4.

“In front of me I see guys like Reggie White [and] Deacon Jones,” Taylor said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “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.”

Anyone who has watched Watt perform for more than a few snaps can attest to the truth of Taylor’s final statement. In addition to Watt’s tremendous physical abilities, it’s his relentless motor that sets him above the rest of his peers in the modern era.

In just five NFL seasons, Watt has already won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, matching L.T. for the most ever since the award was created in 1971. In that same period of time, Watt has amassed 74.5 sacks and 15 forced fumbles, along with an ungodly amount of quarterback pressures and hits that affected games.

Looking at his relatively short career, it’s not crazy to think that Watt could end up smashing Bruce Smith’s all-time mark of 200 career sacks before he’s finished.

If he manages to play for 15 years, Watt would end up with 223.5 sacks. He’s averaged 14.9 sacks per year since entering the league and has gone over 17.5 sacks in three of his last four seasons.

Needless to say, Watt has already put his stamp on the league. Given his current trajectory, he’ll almost certainly win another DPOY award, which would put him ahead of Taylor for the most ever, and at this point nobody would be shocked if he wins the next few in a row. He’s just that good.