2017 NFL DRAFT

T.J. Watt, OLB

School: Wisconsin  |  Conference: BIG10
College Experience: Junior  |  Hometown: Pewaukee, WI
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 252 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.
2321

Player Lowdown

Combine Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.69--21 37---
Workout Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.69--21 3710'7"--

Mock Draft Expert Analysis

  • Miami Dolphins | #22
    Adding two more years to Cameron Wake's contract lessens Miami's need for pass rush help but doesn't eliminate it. Watt's famous last name certainly helps his cause but scouts are excited about his upside as he only switched to defense two years ago and shows terrific instincts and technique as an edge rusher.
  • Green Bay Packers | #29
    Nick Perry is locked into one outside edge position, Clay Matthews has an uncertain future in Green Bay and there is little depth on the roster. Aside from being a Wisconsin native and alum, Watt is an ideal fit in the Packers' front-seven.
  • Dallas Cowboys | #28
    He would be a down end in their defense. There is some concern that he is a one-year wonder, but other scouts think he is just hitting his stride.
  • New Orleans Saints | #32
    Having already added help in the secondary with a cornerback early in the draft, the Saints opt to add a linebacker with some decent familial lineage who has a ton of upside.
  • Green Bay Packers | #29
    Watt doesn't have to move too far to find his first professional home, as the Packers add an athletic pass-rusher to a defense that started last season hot before slowing down the stretch due to injuries.
 

Player Overview

A one-year starter at Wisconsin, Watt made the switch to defense in 2015 and became a starter in 2016, standing up as an outside linebacker in the Badgers' 3-4 base scheme. He was an All-Conference tight end as a junior at Pewaukee before moving to quarterback as a senior, following in the footsteps of his older brothers and enrolling at Wisconsin. After redshirting in 2013, Watt injured his right knee during preseason camp, requiring surgery and missing the entire 2014 season. New Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst and his staff moved Watt to outside linebacker prior to 2015, but he injured his left knee during spring practice and struggled to make an impact as a sophomore, finishing with eight tackles. Watt returned healthy in 2016 and posted a team-best 15.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks to earn First Team All-Big Ten and multiple All-American honors.

Although he might not have elite movement skills, Watt's initial quickness and play speed pop off the screen, using his violent hands and long arms to work off contact. His aggressiveness is a double-edged sword, leading to both positive and negative plays, but his determination, work habits and competitive drive mirror his older brother and will win over a NFL coaching staff. As long as the medicals check out, Watt projects as a starting outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

Strengths Weaknesses

STRENGTHS: Uses his length and heavy hands to take on blocks, locking out to dictate the point of attack. Edge acceleration to threaten the corner. Natural balance and active feet to continue his momentum through contact. Attacks and disrupts the rhythm of blockers with his violence, rarely allowing himself to be locked up. Off-the-chart football instincts with an instant reactor. Senses what is about to happen and understands his surroundings. Field fast with the secondary quicks after shedding to string out plays. Fast angles working downhill as a blitzer, anticipating cracks in the foundation. Physical tackler and strikes through his target. Passionate competitor who brings the same energy each snap> Meticulous worker and football lifer with a true team-first mentality. NFL bloodlines - older brother (J.J.) is a six-year NFL veteran of the Houston Texans and three-time Defensive Player of the Year; older brother (Derek) was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft and is currently a fullback with the Los Angeles Chargers. Highly productive 2016 season with a team-best 15.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks and returned his only career interception 17 yards for a touchdown - also played on special teams coverages.

WEAKNESSES: Tweener size and bulk with limited growth potential. Shows reaction quickness, but not naturally explosive. Rigid change of direction skills and doesn't redirect with loose flexibility. Lacks efficient move-to-move transition skills and needs to mature his pass rush arsenal. Overaggressive tendencies, getting too far upfield and abandoning his gaps. Average long-speed and lacks the recovery burst to close the gap in coverage - running backs and tight ends can create separation from him in their routes. Only one season of starting experience and played mostly on offense over his career until the 2015 season. Medicals require attention with multiple past knee injuries/surgeries, including to his left knee (Dec. 2013, March 2015) and right knee (Aug. 2014).

--Dane Brugler (2/5/17)

 
 
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