The 2020 NFL season felt like a transition year for defensive linemen. A few of the older names we are used to hearing dominate weekly headlines either sat out the season had injuries that hobbled them or just were not performing to their usual standard. In their absence, a few young talented kids in the NFL stepped up and made their claim to be considered among the NFL's most dominant pass rushers.
T.J. Watt is the NFL's most disruptive pass rusher
When you weigh QB pressures against sacks it becomes clear that Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt has been the class of his position group all season. T.J. Watt has surprisingly emerged as the face of the franchise and has led the change in perception of the Steelers back to a defense-first led team after a few flashy seasons with the triple B's (Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell). TJ. Watt is one of the leaders of this new school group of NFL pass rushers. Watt is disruptive, plays violently which sets the tone for the Steelers, and has impressive agility for his size.
In 2nd place among all NFL defensive linemen is star D-Tackle Aaron Donald. Donald is in what I would consider the middle of one of the NFL's most impressive prime stretches. Aaron Donald has now made six straight first-team all pros, seven straight pro bowlers and despite playing defensive tackle, Donald has five double-digit sack seasons in his last six seasons in the NFL. Aaron Donald, while being beaten out this year, has been among the NFL's most disruptive pass rushers since his 2nd season in the NFL.
Also check out: Complete 2019 NFL Draft Results
For the third defensive lineman, we are going to take a look at New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams. Coming into the NFL from USC Williams was a well-regarded prospect who was routinely mocked in the top 5 as the NFL draft approached.
Williams was drafted by the dysfunctional New York Jets 6th overall and failed to live up to the lofty draft expectations as the franchise floated through abject mediocrity. In 2019, Leonard Williams was traded (maybe freed) from the New York Jets for a third-rounder in 2020 and a fifth rounder in 2021. Since leaving that horrible franchise Leonard Williams has been a player reborn in the very same city.
Going into the 2020 season Leonard Williams was playing on the franchise tag with the opportunity to finally fulfill his potential on a new young, dynamic but immature defense. Leonard has had a mini T.J. Watt impression in helping turn the New York Giants back into a defense-first led team.
The Giants were a tough nut for any NFL team and Leonard Williams was one of the major reasons why. Leonard Williams, who is the same age as T.J. Watt but was unlucky to not land on such a functional organization, has the opportunity to live up to his potential in a more stable development environment on an actual functional NFL team with his free agency approaching.Published 10 Jan 2021, 11:56 IST