Let’s examine a pass rusher in the 2017 NFL Draft. Actually, T.J. Watt is much more than a pass rush specialist. He’s a kind of jack-of-all-trades linebacker.
In the early part of his career, linebacker T.J. Watt didn’t get on the field much. He redshirted as a tight end in 2013. Then, injured his right knee in 2014, and subsequently his left knee in 2015 spring practice, but battled back to play as a reserve.
He finished 2015 with eight tackles (1.5 for loss) and two passes defended. However, he broke out in 2016 with 11.5 sacks, 63 tackles (15.5 for loss), four passes defended, two forced fumbles, and an interception (returned for a touchdown).
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Despite a lack of experience, he produced at a high level for one season. He will attack blockers using his excellent length by using a technique known as push-pull, which upsets the balance of the opponent.
He uses his hands very well, and when the twist is in play, he’s first. He also will be disruptive in the passing game.
He’s always searching for the ball. Watt also is decisive and quick when it comes to closing the lanes for running backs, and he always tackles well.
He’s not explosive and lacks foot quickness. That means he has to win with technique, rather than athleticism.
He doesn’t have enough bend, which leads to being rerouted by linemen and not being able to get back in position. Watt won’t accelerate fast enough to go from speed to power, and he doesn’t have enough moves in his arsenal.
DRAFT DAY PREDICTION
Watt is an excellent worker. While he won’t win many footraces, he can lean on his brother to help him succeed in the NFL. In addition, he’s stout against the run and will get to the quarterback with enough regularity to warrant being an NFL starter. He has talent, and based on need, he will go in the first round.