Draft day has finally come, for all the months and months of speculation, the Steelers finally gave their answer: Wisconsin outside linebacker, T.J. Watt. If the name sounds familiar it is for good reason; T.J. is the younger brother of Houston Texan phenom J.J. Watt.
Make no mistake, T.J. is his own man. He is his own player; an outside linebacker capable of playing off the ball or with his hand in the dirt. Watt is a ferocious defender who sets a hard edge, laying the wood on any poor fool who stays within range. A true defender in the Pittsburgh mold, Kevin Colbert has been a scary-good judge of talent over the years.
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Watt is an absolute beast of a man. Actually, having invested some thought into it, Watt is a throwback to the old-school linebackers. Tall; he stands six-foot-four-inches. Solidly built; yet, at a great playing weight of 252 pounds, Watt bench pressed 225-pounds a respectable 21 times. Watt has great length; with some absolute meathooks at the end of his 33⅛-inch arms, ball carriers have less of a chance than a wounded gazelle in the wild.
Although 252 pounds of pure muscle, Watt still possesses great lower body strength and functional speed. His 4.69-second 40-yard dash time, along with a broad jump of 10-foot-8-inches and a vertical jump of 37-inches proves he is capable fo making all the NFL plays.
If you want to gush over numbers, let’s gush over the appropriate stats and at the end, I’ll drop the golden nugget. In 2016, Watt was named second-team Associated Press All-American, as well as first-team All-Big Ten honors. Watt finished the season with 63 tackles, 15.5 for loss and 11.5 sacks. Impressive in its own right; however, Watt accomplished this as he was learning how to play the position.
Although Watt was recruited and redshirted as a tight end, he seems to learn pretty well on-the-fly. Last season was his first as a starter in the vaunted Big-10 conference, College football’s version of Westeros.
Likely a rotational player, for now, Watt has the benefit of learning under the direct tutelage of James Harrison and longtime Steeler, now coach, Joey Porter. This linebacking corps is being strengthened; the addition of Watt is a fantastic pick-up at pick number 30.
Watt may push old man James; when it comes time for Harrison to inevitably call it quits the Steelers will be in great hands. Watt may be raw but his physicality and unique set of skills will make life on offenses in the AFC North very difficult.
Philip Robinson is a national content writer for cover32 and also covers the Pittsburgh Steelers. Follow P-Rob on Twitter @philiprrobinson.