Author and NFL analyst Michael Balko of the NFL Analysis Network released his list of the top five pass rushers heading into the 2021 season.
Featured at no. 4 on his list was Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ. Watt. Last season, Watt led all defenders in sacks (15), tackles for loss (26), quarterback pressures (61), quarterback knockdowns (26), and quarterback hits (41). Despite leading in all these categories, Watt was passed over in favor of Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald for Defensive Player of The Year. Donald was also featured as the no.1 pass rusher on Balko's list.
In his analysis, Balko was complimentary of Watt's ability to get to the quarterback with his vast array of pass-rush moves and his ability to shed blocks.
"Watt excels at possessing a wide variety of finesse moves from the edge that allows him to shed blockers in a unique way and get to the quarterback. In 2020, Watt accumulated 53 total tackles, 23 tackles for a loss, 41 quarterback hits, seven passes defended, and led the league with 15 sacks."
Considering that Watt was recognized as the sixth-best player in the NFL by another publication, one would assume he would have held a higher ranking. Included in this list was Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Trey Hendrickson at no. 5, Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack at no. 3, and his older brother, JJ Watt of the Arizona Cardinals at no. 2.