NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
The other day, I gave you my thoughts on one of the Combine’s biggest winners, Jordan Willis. Today, I thought it might be fun to give my report on another standout from the Combine and a guy who would play a similar role in the NFL. By doing these back to back, we can get begin to compare and contrast their games and maybe get a feel for who might be a better fit for the Patriots come draft day. So with that in mind, lets take a look at T.J. Watt out of Wisconsin.
As you can see from the graph above, Watt is another athletic freak on the football field. What is even more impressive is that for a guy who has only been playing defense for two years and a starter for one, he shows great intelligence and awareness for the position. Watt also showed excellent versatility on the field, playing both end positions as well as OLB and MLB. Much like Willis, Watt showed excellent hand use. He was able to manipulate Tackles with his active hands and their placement when rushing the QB and he showed he could stack and shed when playing the run. On tape, Watt shows much more flexibility as a pass rusher than Willis. He has an ability to get skinny and fight through trash to make plays. He has a relentless motor and is always active, making it near impossible for his opponent to get their hands on him. He sets up his pass rush moves and has a more varied arsenal of secondary pass rush moves than Willis.
Watt lacks and needs to develop power across the board. He is not a traditional hand in the dirt Defensive End because he just does not have the functional strength to hold up against bigger Offensive Lineman. The big concern there is that his frame looks to be maxed out. Watt also struggles converting speed to power. There are times when he tries to win with power and there is just not enough strength in his bull rush or his punch to really make an impact. Watt plays like his hair is on fire, and while that is great, he can get out of control. This leads to balance issues and him not finishing plays. He needs to refine his technique, especially in running situations and setting the edge. He will take chances and they don’t always pay off.
I am an intrigued by Watt, and I think the Patriots should be to. While he may lack some refinement in his game, it is easy to see the traits are there. I love his versatility and I love his work ethic. Any player who can develop hand use and subtle movement skills in such a short amount of time shows me that this kid loves the game and will only continue to get better. Watt is a bit of a tweener, but in a good way I think. I think if he is put into the right situation, he will have immediate success and I am confident in his long term production. To me, he just looks like one of those guys you can ask to do different things from game to game and will have success doing it. I think if the Patriots want him, they will have to take him at the end of round 1.