NFL's best interior linemen of 2012

J.J. Watt tops the list, but Geno Atkins isn't far behind

Updated: August 28, 2013, 9:38 AM ET
By Khaled Elsayed | Pro Football Focus

J.J. WattFrederick Breedon/Getty ImagesJ.J. Watt is a menace to both quarterbacks and running backs.

Last season at Pro Football Focus, we graded some spectacular performances. So to give you a glimpse of what really stood out, we're highlighting the top 10 players at positions, giving a little explanation on why they were and what to expect going forward.

In this edition, we're going to group together the 3-4 defensive ends with the defensive tackles from all formations as we look at our top interior defensive linemen of 2012. The positions aren't completely identical in our grading system, so we've created a common ground to compare the players.

Note: You can find out more about the grading system and process here.

1. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
2012 Grade: +107.7

Analysis: It was a massive year for Watt, who was nearly unstoppable in the regular season, grading positively in every contest. By the end of the season, he had batted 15 balls (a record in the PFF era), led the league with 23 tackles for a loss, and picked up 76 combined sacks, hits and hurries (fourth-most in the league). An amazing year.

Trending: The sky is the limit for Watt. He'll do well to match what he did in 2012, but after he played with a less-than-100-percent elbow, I wouldn't be surprised to see him top it.


For the rest of PFF's analysis on the top interior D-linemen, and the rest of the positions, sign up for Insider today.