Cardinals’ J.J. Watt 14th in PFF’s interior defender rankings

Jun 19, 2022, 11:21 AM
Cardinals DE J.J. Watt returned to practice Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, in a limited capacity after he...
Cardinals DE J.J. Watt returned to practice Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, in a limited capacity after he suffered several injuries to his shoulder midseason. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

After finishing with just one sack and 16 tackles in seven games a season ago, Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt comes in ranked 14th in Ben Linsey’s Pro Football Focus interior defender rankings.

Watt suffered a variety of injuries that kept him out a majority of the season before coming back for the NFC Wild Card game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Watt was diagnosed with a torn labrum, rotator cuff and biceps, as well as enduring a dislocated shoulder.  

Linsey separated the interior defenders into different tiers.

Watt finds himself ranked atop tier four, which is labeled as “nearing the end of career, but still impactful,” according to Linsey.

From a divisional perspective, according to Linsey, Watt is the second-best interior defender in the NFC West. Rams star defensive end Aaron Donald is the only defender from the division ahead of him.

Watt will go down as one of the greatest “what-ifs” of this generation of NFL players. A dominant four-year stretch from 2012 to 2015 that included three Defensive Player of the Year trophies was followed by fewer than 500 defensive snaps in three of the next four seasons. Watt failed to reach that threshold again last year with the Cardinals.

When healthy, he’s still one of the most difficult defensive linemen in the league to block. Watt’s 18.3% pass-rush win rate ranked fifth among all interior defensive linemen with at least 100 pass-rushing snaps prior to his injury in 2021.

Watt turned 33 years old last March as he approaches his 11th season in the league. Watt will look to recapture his early career success in his second season with Arizona.

With former Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones joining the Las Vegas Raiders this upcoming year, the next best Cardinals pass rusher would be outside linebacker Markus Golden.

Golden played in 16 games last season, putting up a team-leading 11 sacks as well as 48 tackles.

Watt and Golden will look to anchor the Cardinals’ pass rush with the departure of Jones.


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Rodney Hudson #61 of the Arizona Cardinals in the huddle during the game against the Tennessee Tita...
Wills Rice

Former Cardinals C A.Q. Shipley thinks offense needs to find identity

"For (Kyler) the next step is just grabbing everyone around him, whether he just needs one play and everyone will look to him," Shipley said.
1 day ago
General Manager Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals looks on prior to the game against the Baltimor...
Tyler Drake

Important NFL dates to remember and how they impact Arizona Cardinals

A look at the important league dates to circle on your calendar and how they relate to the Arizona Cardinals' roster decisions.
1 day ago
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury takes notes as he watches players taking part in drill...
Tyler Drake

Looming questions for the Arizona Cardinals ahead of training camp

There are quite a few questions marks surrounding the Arizona Cardinals ahead of training camp this offseason.
1 day ago
(Twitter photo/New England Patriots)...
Wills Rice

New England Patriots bring back red uniforms in Back to the Future spoof

The New England Patriots announced the team is bringing back their old-school red uniform and helmet combo for the 2022 season.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, left, talks with Cardinals offensive lineman Kelvi...
Jake Anderson

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins reveals what led to PED suspension

DeAndre Hopkins on Wednesday revealed what was in his system that resulted in his six-game suspension for violating the NFL's PED policy.
3 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates a touchdown in first quarter in the game agains...
Nikash Nath

PFF’s Sikkema picks Cardinals QB Kyler Murray 1st in 2019 NFL re-draft

Fast-forward three years, and PFF's Trevor Sikkema still has the Cardinals taking Kyler Murray first overall in his 2019 NFL re-draft.
3 days ago
Cardinals’ J.J. Watt 14th in PFF’s interior defender rankings