Has played both from a three- and four-point stance at end, has stood up on the outside and even kicked inside to tackle on pass downs. Possesses a sneaky first step off the football and because of his length and natural burst can quickly get on top of defensive tackles toward the edge.
Allows his pad level to get up easily when trying to reach the corner and doesn't have the type of fluidity/bend to drop his pad level and flatten around the edge, but loves to work his spin move back underneath in order to find the quarterback. Has a powerful set of hands into contact and can really jar defenders initially at the point of attack on his bull rush and walk his way into the backfield.
Also does a nice job using his long arms on the edge when trying to reach the corner, loves to work the arm over both inside and out and has some above-average short-area quickness for a guy his size. Can work the inside move off the snap both lined up as a DE and DT and has the body control to quickly slide step the block and keep himself clean before closing on the passer.
Isn't a dynamic speed rusher by any stretch though and relies more on his inside counter, power and length o fight his way off blocks. Allows his pad level to get upright when he tries to change directions and fight his way though contact inside, but he has a motor that runs nonstop and works hard through the play.
Delivers a nasty jolt at the point of attack in the run game. Extends his arms well, keeps his base down and can really rock opposing blockers on contact. Displays some short-area quickness when asked to slip blocks upright as well and can make his way into the backfield.
However, when trying to cross the face of opposing linemen inside and crash down the line, gets too upright with his pad level, doesn't protect his frame and can easily be washed away down the line. But, as an in-line guy, knows how to anchor at the point, set the edge and play off blocks when run at.
Finds the football well for the most part and has good read and react ability. Nevertheless, is a bit limited as a stop and start athlete and doesn't have a real burst initially when asked to close and is more of a high motor strider in pursuit.
Impression: A tall, long-armed physical defensive end who has the versatility to play as either as a DE in a 3-4 and as DE/three-technique in a 4-3. He plays hard, is a natural bender for his size and looks like a solid contributor as a three-down lineman in the NFL in any scheme he plays. Will be on just about every team's draft board."
The all-state pick from suburban Milwaukee took a scholarship offer from CMU and played in every game at tight end as a true freshman (eight catches, 77 yards). After the season he transferred back to Wisconsin and redshirted as a walk-on while dominating practices enough to be named the team's defensive scout player of the year. He received a scholarship and started all 13 games as a sophomore for the Badgers, making 15.5 of his 44 behind the line of scrimmage, 4.5 sacks and five passes defensed.
Some teams might consider Watt an inside-outside 'tweener. With additional strength training, he is a prime candidate to play the five-technique position in the 3-4 base defense. His combination of size, hustle and intelligence could land him a spot in the top 40 overall selections.
Pass Rush: Relentless rushing the passer in obvious passing situations whether lined up inside or outside. Gets extra attention from opponents. Most dangerous when anticipating the snap and swimming over guards/centers inside. Spins off blocks to get outside after initial contact or pushes through doubles inside. Gets his hands into throwing lanes, using his height and length to knock down or affect passes. Nimble feet allow him to twist inside. Bounces back after initial contact, keeps his balance to find the ballcarrier. Knocks tight end off route before making his rush. Often lined up outside the tackle, can bull-rush and get corner at times against college right tackles but needs to continue improving his flexibility to beat NFL blockers.
Run Defense: Active against the run. Able to stack and shed to get to outside runs, and is strong and agile enough to move down the line to be involved in inside runs. Displays some nice change-of-direction ability for his size to mirror ballcarriers trying to elude. Gives very good effort containing misdirection and bootlegs on the edge, though quicker NFL ballcarriers will beat him to the edge. When inside, has quickness to penetrate and gets his hands up quickly to maintain distance from the blocker but fails to keep his body square to the line and gets pushed out of the play.
Explosion: Flashes quickness off the snap and willingness to pop and knock back opponents. Able to penetrate gaps with a nice first step and works through double-teams with aggressiveness when lined up inside. Has enough closing speed to explode into ballcarriers and force fumbles. Doesn't have the typical explosive first step of most rush ends because of his girth and lack of ideal height. He is considered an explosive player on every down because he has arguably the strongest punch and most effective hands in the class.
Strength: Flashes strength to shed blocks and bull through double teams, but must gain muscle in both his upper and lower body to hold his ground at the next level. Can be pushed off the line by double teams, typically when turned sideways. Works with his hands against blockers, looks to potentially be good in this area. Can play too high when lined up inside to win the leverage battle.
Tackling: High-effort tackler with long arms and growing strength. Gets low despite his height to mirror and wrap up ballcarriers. Quarterbacks do not want to feel his explosive tackling in the backfield. Doesn't leave his feet, though he stretches to make a lot of ankle tackles other linemen couldn't make.
Intangibles: Excellent character and work ethic. Won the Lott IMPACT Award for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity among college defenders. Began the Justin J. Watt Foundation to help schools fund athletic programs, does quite a bit of community work. Academic All-Big Ten in 2009 and 2010. Brother Derek is scheduled to play football at UW in 2011."
Pursuit: Takes proper angles toward the ball carrier and doesn’t give up on plays. It’s hard to imagine people questioning Watt’s effort on a play-to-play basis. As good as he is in pursuit, Watt knows when to dial it down to simply hold the edge and anchor.
Run Defense: Possesses and top-level punch to beat blockers in the run game. Consistent in his high effort getting after the ball. Watt’s playing strength really shows off against the run. Can be dominant against runs inside but is still athletic enough to defend the outside run. Has worked some inside against the run and uses a good swim to slip past blockers.
Strength: Has the strength to start as a rookie and not get washed out of plays. Has power throughout his frame, which he uses to his advantage. Has an impressive bull rush. Has the strength to hold up against the double team, which will help if he’s used in a 3-4 scheme.
Tackling: With his length, strength and effort, Watt can be an excellent tackler. He takes good pursuit angles to the ball carrier as long as he uses proper technique. Is a strong wrap-up sacker who can really deliver a pop.
Technique: One issue that might keep Watt from being a true NFL pass rusher is that he gets high in his stance. Watt has long arms and he knows how to use them to his advantage. Consistently gets extension with his arms. Watt has a tendency to get sideways in run defense and needs to square up better.
Final Word: The comparison Watt will continue to see is Adam Carriker. The difference between the two, though, is that Watt is more diverse working off the line of scrimmage. He displays a solid array of moves to get into the back field. Has power and quickness, which makes him hard to get a handle on.
Has the look of a classic 3-4 defensive end because he has the strength to hold his place on the line. The only thing you have to question about Watt is his technique. As a former tight end at Central Michigan, he can be inconsistent in several areas of his technique."
Watt is a rising defensive end prospect.
Since redshirting in 2008 thanks to the one year transfer rule, Watt started every game for the Badgers as a redshirt sophomore in 2009, and junior in 2010. He became a machine for getting in the backfield and getting tackles for loss, and became the best defensive lineman on the Badger defensive front.
Watt has a nice big frame with long arms to go with it. He uses his hands very well and has one of the best swim moves out of every defensive line prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft. For such a big guy, he is very quick off of the snap, and does a nice job of penetrating despite playing a lot in the five technique. Watt is explosive off of the ball always driving his feet and having a natural knack for finding the ball. He always seems to be wherever the football is, using his instincts very well. He has a solid football IQ, and has excellent intangibles. He is versatile enough to play defensive tackle as well. He can take up space and occupy multiple blockers, which bodes well for him to play a 3-4 defensive end position at the next level.
Despite Watt’s big frame, he isn’t extremely strong. At times he struggles in his bull rush because he doesn’t get leverage. His height hurts him when trying to get leverage as he often shoots straight up, not staying very low when engaging offensive lineman. Sometimes he struggles to get off of blockers, failing to use his long arms and separating from his opponent. He will need to bulk up at the next level and become better as a pure bull rusher, but the talent is there.
Watt resembles current Pittsburgh Steeler defensive end Aaron Smith. Smith was more of a penetrator at Northern Colorado and built strength to become one of the most dominant 3-4 defensive ends in the game. Watt’s skillset and versatility will ultimately put him between the 18-30 range of the NFL Draft. The San Diego Chargers will take a hard look at him with pick 18. If he slips past San Diego, look for Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh to give him a look in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Patriots, who have two first round picks, seem like very likely candidates to select him with pick 28 should he fall that far.
NFL Comparison: Aaron Smith"
Positive: Explosive and athletic defensive line prospect with a lot of upside. Possesses solid first-step quickness, plays with good pad level, and quickly changes direction. Powerful, pushes offensive tackles off the line, and works hard to defend the run. Effectively uses his hands throughout the action, rarely off his feet, and makes plays in every direction of the field. Possesses a burst of speed, is fluid if asked to twist or stunt, and fast off the edge. Plays an intelligent brand of football. Gets his hands up and knocks away the throw if he cannot get to the passer. Relentless in pursuit of the action.
Negative: Must develop more pass rush moves.
Analysis: Watt has been a dominant force the past two years and is a prospect whose best football lies ahead of him. He offers potential at a number of spots on the defensive line and will only get better with experience as he physically matures. He's a terrific prospect who could end up being one of the best defensive players in this draft three years down the road."
Negatives: Not an exceptional athlete... Can misread plays... Needs to keep contain... Will sometimes over-pursue on run plays"
Strengths: Hard-working player with great size and decent athleticism for the position. Exhibits raw natural strength and is able to drive blockers into the backfield. Has tremendous explosion and is generally the first defensive lineman out of his stance and into the opponent. He uses this combo to get players off balance and then finishes them off with outstanding use of hands and pass-rush technique. He utilizes a variety of inside and outside moves including arm overs, rips, push-pulls, spins, swims, clubs, etc. Can dip his shoulder and turn the edge as a pass rusher. Has the ability to finish when he gets to the QB. Has the long arms to knock balls down at the LOS. Watt is a relentless player who never gives up on a play and shows excellent conditioning without wearing down late in the games. As a run defender, he uses his strength at the POA to hold the edge, finds the ball, and can then stack and shed to make the play. Shows good straight-line speed to pursue the play and track down ball-carriers. Shows good instincts and consistently works hard to improve. Versatile player who could line up at a number of positions on the line and be productive. Valuable special teamer with four career blocked kicks. Well-respected player on and off the field. Natural leader and A+ character.
Weaknesses: Not nearly as athletic as a number of the other DEs in this draft class, and only has two full years of experience playing DE at the collegiate level. Still learning to refine his technique as many of his plays are a result of his wrecking-ball type of play on the field, just overpowering and outworking the opponent. Needs to show more discipline on the field. Will occasionally bite on misdirection. Can get upfield too quickly, opening holes underneath for ball-carriers.
Projection: Watt is going to be a coveted player come April as his work ethic, production, versatility, and character all should weigh highly in his being one of the first DEs selected in the 2011 NFL Draft."
Plays great against the run, using his shoulders and arms to fight for position. Great vision and makes quick adjustments to the ball-carrier. Not a pure pass rusher, relies heavily on his strength and athleticism to beat slower offensive linemen. Watt progressed very rapidly and has some versatility along the Badgers' defensive line. Can play almost any position along the line. He uses a quick first step to dig into blockers, preferring to bull rush into them. Watt projects as a late second to third round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft."
However, he possesses more athletic ability and better hip flexibility than the former first-round pick of the Rams, who could never stay healthy. Where Watt stands out more from Carriker is in his style of play. Where there were some concerns about Carriker's toughness and how well he would finish around piles, Watt plays with more passion, energy and nastiness."
WB: Ooooh! I love J.J. Watt. You got me excited. You hear that? (sounds excited)
CN: It's hard not to get excited when you look at his recent games. This past weekend, he had what, one straight sack, another sack where he caused a fumble that a teammate recovered; another play where he chased the running back in the flat and stripped the ball and a fourth play where he hit the quarterback, and knocked the ball into the air, where it was intercepted. So you have two sacks and three turnovers caused. He's a big play machine. Is he coming out?
WB: He's a junior, but, you got to come out when the stock's high. After the year he's had, I think he should come out.
CN: I haven't seen him rated anywhere, but he's been crazy this year. He's not the athletic monster that a Nick Fairley is, but his production is just too good. Where do you put him?
WB: He's a step down from the Fairley's of the world, but I always joke that he should grow a big beard and go play for the Steelers for ten years. That's the kind of player he is. He's not real explosive that he's going to flatten out around the corner on you. He's a power player, he's not very fluid. He does have a little suddeness, but he knocked people off balance. He uses his strong hands, and he finds the football. A lot of teams are going to look at him as a 3-technique, some will see him as a base end. Ideally, he's a 5-technique in a 3-4. I think he goes somewhere late in the first round and plays well for somebody for ten years. He's a garbage man. He makes life cleaner for all the players around him, especially the linebackers.
CN: So you definitely see him as a 1st round player?
WB: I don't know if he's ever going to make a Pro Bowl because 3-4 ends never make Pro Bowls but he'll be one of the best 5-techniques in the NFL. I really like him.
CN: Where in the 1st, mid, late?
WB: Somewhere in the 13-25 range, I think. He's still got some upside. He played tight end at Western Michigan before he transferred to Wisconsin so he's only played d-line for two years.
CN: He plays over right tackles, and what impressed me is that this guy gets to the football. He sees everything. He's one of these guys who can process information on the fly and adjust on the fly. He recognized screens. He sees flares and adjusts his rush angles to get in the pass lanes and knock the ball down. For a defensive end he gets his hands on a surprising number of footballs. I've seen a lot of good linebackers who don't touch the ball as much as J.J. Watt.
WB: What stands out for me is he's flexible in the lower half. Usually the big guys get upright. He has a snap off the football, hands up. The first time I saw him he was pancaking offensive linemen off the ball. It was against a smaller school but he was firing off the football and just throwing people to the ground off the snap and I was asking myself, ''who is this corn-fed white boy?" He's gonna be a heck of a player. It's gonna be tough to run to his side if he's on the 5-technique.
[5-technique refers to a stance on the outside shoulder of an offensive tackle, which is where 3-4 DEs generally line up. A 3-technique is a DT lined up on the outside shoulder of a guard, where rush 4-3 DTs like John Randall, LaRoi Glover and Warren Sapp worked so effectively."
JJ "Dynomite" Watt is THE Alpha "30" Defensive End of this entire Draft Class.
His repertoire of OUTRAGEOUS Strength + Power, combined with stunning Lateral Agility and IMMEASURABLE Passion, Perseverance, and Tenacity, place him head and shoulders above any other Anchor End, in my book.
Others, like Robert Quinn and Aldon Smith ~ and perhaps DaQuan Bowers ~ will get more Sacks...But a team looking for a balanced fusion of Strength against the Run combined with Pass Rushing Power could NOT do better than JJ Watt, this year. He's still raw, and still needs to grow into his frame, but this recent Tight End Conversion is rapidly ascending to his full capacity, and he is one of the very most passionate and dedicated men in the entire Draft: I have no doubt, none at all, that he'll make the most of his considerable skills.
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