In only five seasons, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt already has won as many NFL defensive player of the year awards as former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor did in his entire career. And Taylor has very high praise for the man who still has plenty of time to win a fourth one — and more.
Taylor has Watt in the top four defensive players of all time.
“In front of me I see guys like Reggie White [and] Deacon Jones,” Taylor said Saturday at a Houston-area appearance, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “Do I put J.J. in front of me? No, but the guy is a phenomenal player. He can go down as one of the best players to ever play his position. . . . Every time I watch film on him or I see a game he’s playing in, the first thing that comes to my mind is this guy can go all day.”
Taylor sees two glaring omissions from Watt’s record: A league MVP award and a Super Bowl title. Taylor has both.
One thing Taylor never got was an astronomical payday, like the one new Giants defensive Olivier Vernon recently scored.
“It’s amazing how the game has changed,” Taylor said. “One of the reasons I guess a lot of the guys that played in my era don’t watch football anymore is simply because it’s like what we could have done and what we could have made, and it hurts a little bit. . . . If I played now, it would be ‘Taylor and Giants Stadium.’ They would have to give me part-ownership.”
Actually, if Taylor played today he’d be more like Von Miller — who like Taylor was the second pick in the draft. Under the rookie wage scale that came into being during Miller’s rookie year, players selected high in the process have a hard time getting paid true market value.
Between Taylor and Watt, Watt is the one who should have a problem with that, because Watt is the one whom the next compensation structure is currently screwing.