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Watt ranked No. 6 in NFL's Top 100

Linebacker T.J. Watt was voted to the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2022, presented by NFL Network, coming in ranked No. 6, the highest ranked Steelers player, up three spots from last week when he was ninth. Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward previously made the list, ranked at No. 42.

Watt is coming off an incredible 2021 season where he won the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year. In 2021, Watt tied Hall of Famer Michael Strahan's NFL single-season record with 22.5 sacks, leading the NFL in sacks for the second-straight year.

On his way to tying Strahan, Watt set a new Steelers single-season sack record when he passed James Harrison, who had 16 sacks in 2008.

"It's all about tradition here and to be able to put your footprint in as part of the tradition here is special," said Watt of achieving the honor last season. "Doing this with such a wonderful group of guys is what it's all about. To be able to be a part of this franchise hopefully for a long time, this is very special. But I really do have more work to do."

Watt is one of only two players in NFL history to have 20 plus sacks in 14 or fewer games since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. The only other one to do it was the legendary Reggie White, who had 21 sacks in 12 games in 1987 in a strike-shortened season.

He also became the 12th player since sacks were counted as a statistic to have at least 20 sacks in a single season, something his brother, Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt, did twice.

Watt, who has 72 career sacks which ranks fourth in Steelers history, also joined White and his brother, J.J. Watt, as the only players since 1982 to have 70 plus sacks in their first five seasons in the NFL.

Watt was also voted first-team Associated Press All-Pro, 101 Awards AFC Defensive Player of the Year, PFWA Defensive Player of the Year, The Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year, All-NFL by PFWA, voted to the Pro Bowl, and the Steelers 2021 Most Valuable Player.

In his meteoric rise to stardom since joining the Steelers as the team's No. 1 pick in 2017, Watt has gained a fanbase like no other along the way. Included in that fanbase are two of the Steelers legends who won NFL Defensive Player of the Year before him.

"He's a generational guy. He could have played in any generation," said Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount. "Those guys just don't come along that often.

"He's a difference maker. It's his motor. He is just one of those guys that keeps coming. He always just seems to be in a different gear. You can't teach that desire. It has to come from deep down within you.

"I think without any question at all he could have played on those Super Bowl teams we were on."

He isn't the only one who feels that way.

Joe Greene, the man who is the definition of a Steelers defensive player, completely agrees.

"You definitely have to say that he could because of the intensity that he brings to the game and the desire," said Greene. "The separation between any player, those that command and demand respect, is the attitude that they bring to the game, to the position. That's the separation line. The attitude. The desire. For them, winning the game and beating the opposition is the number one priority.

"Just looking at him, his physical stature for an edge rusher, he has length, he has the legs and the arms. The most important of all other than the physical stature is he has the want to and the desire. That is what makes it happen for him. He has the motor. That's the engine that drives him. I had the size and the ingredients, but what was missing with me was the speed. What helped me was my desire to play, my desire to win, and I see that same thing in T.J.'s effort on every play. You see that intensity. You can't coach that."

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