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NFL Draft 2017: Wisconsin OLB T.J. Watt scouting report

You might’ve heard there’s another Watt headed to the NFL.

T.J. Watt breaks down NFL Draft talk at Wisconsin Pro Day (B5Q/YouTube)

If you’ve watched any Wisconsin Badgers football over the past eight years, you’ve heard the name “Watt.” J.J. Watt, whom you may have heard of, is a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and could end up as the best defensive lineman in NFL history, pending his health holding up.

Then there was Derek Watt, who plays the very non-glamorous fullback position, but was valuable enough for the Los Angeles Chargers to select at the end of the sixth round.

At this point last year, T.J. Watt being a potential first-round pick was the furthest notion from most Wisconsin fans’ minds. The third pass rusher for the Badgers, Watt was behind Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel, and played in a rotational role. Yet 2016 was the year for Watt, who exploded with 11.5 sacks in his first year as a starter. Being a fourth-year junior, Watt decided to leave Wisconsin early for the draft.

T.J. Watt scouting report

Height: 604
Weight: 252
Hand Size: 11”
Arm Length: 33.5”

*40-Yard Dash: 4.69 seconds
Three-Cone Drill: 6.79 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.13 seconds
Bench Press: 21 reps
Broad Jump: 10’8”
Vertical Jump: 37”
*Watt only performed field drills at UW’s pro day

Strengths: Looks the part. Has NFL pedigree with both older brothers in the NFL. Has great length. Is a plus athlete who tested very well in Indianapolis. Has shown ability to use hands to defeat blockers. Has the lower-body flexibility to bend around the corner. Has shown hip fluidity in coverage. Makes creative plays against the run. Made big plays in big games.

Weaknesses: One full year of experience at outside linebacker. Can struggle to hold up against the run in a traditional sense. Has shown the ability to cover, but not a strong suit. Inconsistent with his functional athleticism.

Summary: Watt is an interesting case. A lot of his hype is warranted; his athletic testing is excellent and his flashes are very impressive. However, a lot of his hype, especially in Wisconsin and in the media, seems to stem from his oldest brothers being very good and him playing in-state. I think his best fit is as a 4-3 weakside defensive end with him putting on 10 or so pounds, putting him at 6’5, 260–265 pounds. He could also end up as a strong-side outside linebacker in an odd front, again dependent on him gaining weight. Some teams could also see him as a Sam linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, where he could be dropped down into a pass rusher on third downs.

Projected Round: Late first/early second round