Heading into the draft, there’s a lot of strong opinions (in both directions) on TJ Watt to the Packers. I don’t watch a lot of college football and I don’t believe success in college translates to the pros – they are very different games. Instead I prefer to look at the player and his skills.
TJ Watt gets a lot of attention for two reasons that mean, precisely jack sh#t:
- He’s JJ Watt’s brother. Who cares? Derek Watt is JJ’s brother, too, but you don’t see anyone throwing a parade over that. See also: Matthews, Casey and Rodgers, Jordan.
- He went to Wisconsin. This may be relevant if he was an offensive lineman, but not as a linebacker.
So what is important?
Well, he has the size at 6’4″ 252 and he has the athleticism, with combine results in nearly every category that were right at Clay Matthews levels. Clearly these don’t tell the whole story, though. See also: Mamula, Mike.
He has the physical tools. What else matters? What is his narrative?
He was a tight end who converted to defense and in two years became a second team All American. That’s impressive, but the college success doesn’t always translate. Great motor, meticulous worker, amazing instincts, fast, downhill, balance, violence. Those are the words that describe him.
On the flip side, rigid, over-aggressive, and slow in coverage also describe him.
So what’s the verdict?
We’ll find out in four years. For now, though, ignoring his school and family, he’s a high motor guy who was a late bloomer and has all the physical skills. At the end of the first (where the Packers always pick due to all their success), that’s about the best you can hope for. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was gone before he got to the Packers. Edge rusher is a premium position and a young guy who came on strong at the end of his college career can go early.