Scouts Evaluate TJ Watt, Believe He’s A Top 40 Pick

Pretty light day here at the Depot. We’ll round things off with some scouts’ take on Wisconsin OLB TJ Watt, a name that’s in play for the Pittsburgh Steelers at pick 30. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn is one of the best draft reporters in this process because of his “in” with several scouts, giving us some really good inside information.

He ran through basically every Badger and Wisconsin draft prospect, which of course, included Watt. Here’s the blurb on him from multiple scouts.

“Played effectively off the bench in 2015 before exploding in ’16 with 11 1/2 sacks. “He’s more of a ‘Sam’ or 3-4 outside linebacker,” said one scout. “He’s physical, tough. He tested out well. Plays hard.” Another scout called him the best LB in the draft. “I gave him a higher grade than his brother (J.J.),” he said. “All he does is make plays. He’s Clay Matthews. Probably more explosive. I guess he’s learned pass-rush techniques from his brother. Uses his hands well.” Paced LBs at the combine in vertical jump (37), broad jump (10-8), short shuttle (4.13), three-cone (6.79) and hand size (11). “Needs to play with more strength and base,” a third scout said. “On the ground too much.”

Liking him more than his older brother is certainly high praise, though to be fair, JJ Watt wasn’t viewed as a count-miss prospect coming out.

Though not said specifically in the blurb, McGlinn notes Watt is projected as a top 40 pick, which I assume is what scouts said/implied to him. That certainly puts him in play for someone like Pittsburgh at 30. The Steelers have shown heavy interest in him, attending his Pro Day and having dinner with him, something they’ve done with each of the last two first round draft picks. He was one of two OLBs to check every box in our “what they look for study,” too.

It’s of course impossible to say but I believe Watt is one of the leaders to be the team’s pick at 30 and the top outside linebacker possibility. Definitely check out McGinn’s article for a look behind the veil, especially if you’re a Badgers’ fan.

And here’s our report on Watt.

2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Wisconsin EDGE T.J. Watt

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • steelersfan

    I would definitely be OK with this pick. Taking an athletic player at a position of need whose best playing days are ahead of him and may become Clay Matthews is never a bad thing…I just don’t think he makes it to us (GB will take him I think).

  • I’m on the Watt hype train. Super high ceiling.

  • Ray Powell

    I’d be very happy with that!

  • Brandon Stokely

    If he’s available at 30, you smile and say thank you like when Roethlisberger or Woodson were available, and sprint to the podium.

  • Big Joe

    Very possible. Only 8 days to go to find out. It seems that 30 is wide open to options.

  • capehouse

    Still holding out hope for Lawson or Rivers, but Watt is my 3rd choice.

  • Dshoff

    Great! Let’s trade down 5 picks, pick up another 3rd rounder and draft Watt. I know, I know, but wouldn’t that be SWEET!

  • Jason Vancil

    I love McGinns Prospect quotes. Is his stuff free at the MJS or is it paid content?

  • budabar

    Reminds you of Kevin green

  • WreckIess

    Huh? And here I was getting told all day that Watt isn’t worth the 1st rounder. I guess you just can’t trust Depot commenters when it comes to talent evaluation.

  • Jaybird

    Ben , Woodson ? That’s some mighty good company your putting him in. If we do get him , I hope your right!

  • CP72

    I agree. Hard worker, good athlete, good size, has maybe the best defensive player in the league as a sounding board….man don’t see a lot of downside.

    I really don’t care about the 18 months on defense. He had 18 months of defense and turned in double digit sacks in the Big Ten.

    If his medical is ok I am 100% in on TJ.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Not a fan of drafting him first round, if he is there in the 3rd and Vince Biegel isnt available I might consider him, would be good depth behind Anthony Chickillo.

  • T3xassteelers

    I like him. I just always find it funny how they compare white players to current white players and same for black guys

  • NinjaMountie

    The fact that he’s rated so high and he’s white makes me think he might be worth taking in the first. White and top 40 is actually more like top 20.

    I’m mostly joking but I do think that white players are undervalued frequently.

  • Steel City Slim

    It’s amazing how you can hardly ever find an analysis of him without the mention of his older brother in it. Makes you wonder what his projection would be if his name was TJ Smith and not TJ Watt.

  • PaeperCup

    Yes please. Along with 12 other players. It’s a good year for most our positions of need.

  • PaeperCup

    lol…where’s that “that’s racist” smiley we used to use at propboards?

    I get what you are saying. Same way I view Mccaffrey. His Top 25 grade is more like a top 10.

  • Spencer Krick

    I’d be good with TJ.

  • Matt Manzo

    I’m liking him at 30 more and more. Of the edge guys, Reddick is really the only other one I want.

  • NinjaMountie

    LOL…those imoji were fun, lol. Maybe someone will just outright call me this, that’s almost like the emoji.

  • Ace

    You think Biegel is a better prospect than Watt? As in, they are both there at 94 who you taking?

  • LucasY59

    I think the actual spot they are drafted will show their real value, guys like Kuechly get drafted early enough that I dont think they actually lose value because of their race (they might not get as much pre draft attention, but the teams know their talent and true value) I really liked Luke and JJ but of course neither were available when the Steelers were on the clock, as for Christian and TJ, I think their talent will will be equal to their draft position, McCaffrey will most likely be the 2nd RB picked and will go in the top 25, and I think Watt will be taken no later than #29, the Packers wont be able to pass up the opportunity to pair him up with Mathews (and they would be a good pair regardless of their race as well)

  • LucasY59

    Haha, please dont!

  • Dan

    No chance he’s anywhere near the 3rd, barring disaster. He may not even be there by #30.

  • Shane Mitchell

    I think Biegel is the better linebacker, Watt is the better athlete, I would take Biegel.

  • Dan

    Well, there are rumors of McCaffery getting top 10 hype.

  • Dan

    Jordan Willis, basically.

  • Dan

    I read a rumor that the Steelers though him to be an early second rounder. Could just be smoke. I’d like to see TJ teamed with Bud and learning from #92, the nastiest dude since Greg Lloyd.

  • Garrett Hunt

    If he’s there at 30, I would put a lot of Dave’s money that the Steelers take him!

  • Gautama Om

    He wont make it to us. Book it.

    Unless we move up and that’s going to require our original 3rd round pick. That should move us up to 23rd or 24th pick, even then he’s not guaranteed to be there either. I think he could go as early as the 18th pick with the Titans.

  • Sam Clonch

    Metrics say take him at 30, but 3 knee surgeries is SCARY! If they take him I’ll be onboard, both feet. If they pass, I’ll be okay with it, but will definitely keep track during his career. Will be eyeing Noah Spence this coming year, lol.

  • MC

    I haven’t been a fan of this pick at 30. Earlier I was loving the idea of him at our second pick but no way that happens anymore. He’s raw but he’s a kid that has athletic ability, seems to be a fast learner and has that desire and mentality to improve and succeed much like his brother which is one of the most important attributes. . So if we take him at 30, I will trust their judgement and i’ll be fully on board with it. I’m actually finding myself liking the idea of him on the steelers more and more each day.

    Perfect scenario would be trading down from 30, picking him up (or Rivers) and then double dipping later on, hopefully with someone less raw.

  • Sam Clonch

    Chick has heart, but his ceiling is backup.

  • Guest12

    So let’s trade our 1 to the Bears and get that early 2nd round pick, take Watt, and get an extra early round 3rd as well. Pipe dreams though

  • JT

    My list of not-OK players is a lot longer than my list of okay players.

    Not-OK: Any QB, Takk, Tim Williams, Peppers
    OK: Literally anyone else mocked to the Steelers

  • Sam Clonch

    Who are the Bears targeting that they think will get picked between them and the Steelers that they think is worth losing an early third for though?

  • MC

    Right on.

  • Mike Lloyd

    I’m actually ok with this if he became the choice. I do like Watt…
    I am nervous about the knee. I realize knee surgeries have come a long long way.. We’ve seen guys drop for physical issues in previous drafts… Myles Jack comes to mind, although his knee issues were way more severe…
    I, personally would be surprised if the Steelers took him because of that. I would be liking it if they did however.
    For comparison sake, Clay Matthews was an awfully good freakin player for an awful long time…If he became that, and we got em…sign me up for that shi*!

  • Danny Young

    Just throwing this out there. Compare Oj Howard’s combine to Tj Watts…just saying, we all kinda want a TE too lol

  • Jeff Papiernik

    If we draft him, the only hybrid safety that we’ve shown interest in that would be available 2nd round or later is Josh Jones. So which combo would you rather have? Obi and Rivers or Watt and Jones?

  • Gautama Om

    You and all of these other people are coming around to him?

    Personally I think he has a good chance to challenge Myles Garrett as one of the best pass rushers in this draft a few years down the road.

    Clearly Garrett will have a huge head start but TJ will be nearly as good as him in a few based on his work ethic and JJ being his mentor.

    IMO he’s a VERY SAFE bet to be good player, POSSIBLY great player.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Chickillo is converting from 3-4 DE that 2 gapped his entire college career, he was the #3 OLB recruit in the nation at one time,way more talented than most of you fans realize and athletically there are maybe only 2 or 3 guys in this entire draft that are on his level. So why exactly would you say he has such a low ceiling? Let me guess, because you all expect him to be all pro year 2 while playing with a high ankle sprain the entire season, is that it? Timmons didnt do a damn thing for 3 years, same with Harrison. Dont be surprised if whatever rookie we draft is backing him up all season long.

  • LucasY59

    for me its Obi and Rivers (I just like what both of them do better, I think they are more experienced and ready to contribute earlier, but if it ended up being Watt and Jones I wouldnt be too upset)

  • Shane Mitchell

    They showed interest in others, they interviewed Duke Riley at the senior bowl and were at his pro day.

  • SoCal Steeler

    I think you hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly who he looks like in pass rushing. I’m more for C. Harris or McKinley at 30 but don’t know if they’ll be there. If either is there and they still take Watt I wouldn’t be pissed. I’ll trust the Steelers analysis, I know he’ll be better than J.J. ( and I’m not talking about his brother)

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    I thought the same thing in how he moves and his intensity. Nice call!

  • Zach

    very unlikely that we trade out of the 1st — it would have to include a future 1st for sure to make it worth. With the 5-th year option for 1st rounders, there is little incentive for moving out of the 1st to early 2nd round (unless you get a ton of picks, of course).

  • Darth Blount 47

    Early on, even before many of the boxes were getting checked, I had Watt in my top 5 guys that made sense for Pittsburgh. Not in the top 5 guys that I wanted, but that rarely matters, since I almost NEVER get the guy that I want in the 1st. (Though, I have gotten quite a bit of guys that I’ve wanted in later rounds, happily enough.)

    Then Watt started checking off a ton of boxes with interest shown, athletic Combine showing, Power 5 school, position need, more interest shown, etc…

    But at the same time, he started rising up some of the boards that I pay attention to, and seemed to be getting mocked anywhere from 13 – 29. With a few teams letting it be known that they LOVED him. So I began to turn my focus away a bit, since it didn’t appear that we’d have a shot at him.

    I’ve been saying about this guy, that he’s either gonna ultimately make a team look really smart, or really dumb. I’ve been hesitant to buy into the hype, as limited production and injury concerns, are always 2 of my bigger red flags. But when it comes down to connecting dots for Pittsburgh, I agree with Alex, this guy needs to start to be studied under a Petri dish with a high powered microscope right about now. And so I shall.

  • Don

    Haha. By “white” I assume you mean scrappy and a student of the game?

  • Darth Blount 47

    Hey now, don’t steal my ideas….

  • Michael James

    Wasn’t it reported by Tony Pauline that the Steelers like Watt, but they don’t see him as a first-round prospect (exactly my thoughts)?
    I would rather take Harris or Lawson at #30, if they’re available. For all the Lawson critics, you should really watch the RSP filmroom session on Lawson on youtube. It’s an incredible analysis and shows why he would be a great pick.

  • Steve Johnson

    Mixed feelings about this kid. Seems like a one year wonder who had a great combine and pro day. I agree, they need a pass rushing specialist, I just hope they don’t reach for him. My question is this, will their be a better OLB or CB there at pick #62? If they can get a premier CB at #30 and still get aN OLB at #62, I go with an OLB. How many times will the Steelers be in position to draft a top 15 or 20 CB? According to the experts, this draft is the deepest class of CB’s in 10 years.

  • Steve Johnson

    Too many Durability Flags on Lawson, I wouldn’t take him in the 1st.

  • Steve Johnson

    It’s America

  • will

    Cowher wanted a lineman……..not Ben…… we have all read…….Dan Rooney “suggested” the Ben selection. So maybe you are correct……Dan Rooney smiled and said “thank you” when Roethlisberger was available.

  • will

    Timmons did not do a “damn thing” ( what is a damn thing?) for 5 years! Then he was “up and down” until later in his career with the Steelers. IMO

  • Guest12

    Well I guess that would all depend on who they take in the first. If they didn’t take a QB, and then one they like is still on the board at 30, that could be the one. That also depends on who allcthe Browns and 49ers draft as well.

  • george

    Agreed. He’s going to split reps with Debo and learn from one of the best in the business. If he progressed that much between 2015-2016 in college imagine what he will do after one year in the NFL.

  • george

    I would take Watts over Lawson. I wouldn’t mind Rivers if Watts not there at 30.

  • george

    I would bet ALL of Dave’s money and Alex’s McLumina that they take him.

  • John

    Just read Gil Brandt’s list of top 50 guys available. We should get a good player no matter what. Doesn’t have to be Watt. Lots of CB/S prospects with athleticism and talent.

  • Sam Clonch

    And today there’s an article on if Chick even makes the team! Haha, that’s some great timing!

  • Jon Crissinger

    I’m sure if he had another year in college he’d produce similarly. He only has one year of production, because he started as a tight end.

  • Brandon Stokely

    I don’t want to imply he’s a generational player like Ben is and Rod was, but at pick #30? Fantastic value at that spot.

  • Matt Manzo

    It’s just the one year starter and knee injuries that keeps me from pounding the table. There’s still enough reason for him to fall out of the first.

  • MC

    That’s what im thinking, no need to reach for an edge if there is a higher rated DB left.

  • Garrett Hunt

    I hope you put some units down for me Dave

  • Chad Weiss