Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt emerged as No. 1 in NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2015.
J.J. Watt is the NFL Network's top player for 2015.
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According to HoustonTexans.com's Deepi Sidhu, Watt, the Texans' prized defensive end, wound up No. 1 in NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2015. The countdown's pinnacle was a two-hour finale on Wednesday, July 8.
Sidhu notes Watt is the first defensive player to emerge as No. 1 and the first one to make it to the list's top three in the list's five-year history. Watt makes a four-slot jump from his highest placing of No. 5 in 2013.
Watt's latest distinction comes with plenty of hard evidence to back it up.
Watt was the NFL's 2014 Defensive Player of the Year. He made league history by being the first player to register at least 20 sacks in two seasons. He duplicated his 20.5-sack effort in 2012 last year, per Sidhu.
Watt and the late Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor are the only two NFL players who have at least 10 sacks and 10 passes defensed in two different seasons in the last 24 years, per HoustonTexans.com.
The Texans' defensive end also recorded 50 quarterback hits during the 2014 NFL season, the most since the league started recording the stat. He also added 29 tackles for loss and five fumble recoveries last season, per Sidhu.
Watt was not only a threat on defense, he proved he can shine on offense when it counts.
He caught three touchdown receptions as a tight end in 2014. Watt and former Chicago Bears defensive end Connie Mack are the only two defensive linemen to score at least five touchdowns in a season, per Sidhu.
Watt broke a 50-year drought when he became just the fourth player ever to record a touchdown reception, pick-six and fumble recovery for a touchdown in the same season, per HoustonTexans.com.
Watt's Texans teammates, left tackle Duane Brown and running back Arian Foster, were 86th and 80th on the NFL Network's Top Players of 2015, per HoustonTexans.com's Drew Dougherty.
Just recently, Watt placed 16th in MMQB.com's "The 100 Most Influential People for the 2015 Season." MMQB.com writer Andy Benoit explains why:
"Watch Texans film and you quickly realize that, as great as Watt seems in highlights or on TV, those platforms don't begin to fully illustrate his actual impact. He's the best defensive lineman in football, and the gap between him and No. 2 is the biggest chasm at the top of any position in the league.
"If Watt puts together another three years like the three times he just had, the conversation shifts to where he ranks among Deacon Jones, Reggie White and history's other immortal D-linemen."
Dougherty says the NFL Network's Top Players countown began in 2011 and has been airing on the channel every year since then from May to July.
The 26-year-old Watt has amassed 295 tackles, 57.0 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, one interception and one touchdown in five seasons with the Texans. He also has three receiving touchdowns during that span, per ESPN stats.
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