The opening round of the 2017 NFL Draft is now history and the Pittsburgh Steelers have chosen and anointed T.J.Watt, a linebacker from Wisconsin, as their first pick. Watt also happens to be the younger sibling of J.J. Watt, the superstar defensive end of the Houston Texans.
Did I mention that he also declared for the pros after his junior year? He made the “move to the money” and I, for one, think that it was a great move. Also, based partially on his “genome,” he is projected by many prognosticators to ascend to sure stardom in the NFL galaxy. T.J. Watt was ranked No. 1 in sacks (12) in the Big Ten and No. 12 all of Division 1 college football (FBS). He was No. 4 in the Big Ten in tackles for losses (16).
Now ordinarily, those stats would be pretty darn lofty, but hold….the presses. Mr. Watt will now be preparing to face the crème de la crème of the college athletes offered up for competition in the NFL. There won’t be much of a break for him in the NFL relative to his having to face an occasional “walk on” here and there back in college.
Coming in at around 6 feet 5, 240lbs, he cannot be considered a lightweight, but as of 2014 the average guard, tackle, or center in the NFL was 312 pounds, 72 pounds heavier than T.J. Watt. So Mr. Watt on the average may be much lighter than the average NFL offensive lineman, and that might pose an issue, especially competing against the behemoths of the AFC North.
If T.J. Watt can rustle up just one-third (4), of his college sack total for the Steelers in 2017, it will have justified him being chosen No. 1.
My opinion has not wavered. Pittsburgh should have traded up to draft a cornerback in the first round, sacrificed their second round pick and grabbed a nasty outside linebacker from a small school in the third round. In order for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense to help pave the road to the team’s seventh Lombardi trophy, Pittsburgh’s defensive line must perpetually attack and harass offensive lines as well as all opposing quarterbacks in order for the defensive secondary to relax and play with reckless abandon. No one can predict the future, but it remains to be seen if T.J. Watt has enough “juice” to be the light at the end of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and their defensive secondary tunnel in 2017.
Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741 follow him on Twitter@ultrascribe.