For now, new Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt will likely be known as the younger brother of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Los Angeles Chargers fullback Derek Watt. With that said, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said immediately after selecting T.J. Watt with the 30th pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft that he expects his newest player will do everything he can to forge his own identity in the league.
“I think this is about T.J., it’s not about J.J., it’s not about Derek, his other brother,” Colbert said, when asked about what kind of impact Watt’s family tree had on him picking the former Wisconsin edge-rusher. “Obviously, it’s a unique story, three guys in the NFL, but this is about T.J. and what he can do and I think once you meet him, you’ll get that feeling from him.
“I don’t think he ever mentioned any of his brothers unless we asked about them. So, he’s himself, he’s his own man and he’s going to try to make his own mark. I wouldn’t be shocked if he tries to out-do everything that his family has done to this point. He just seems to be that kind of guy and he’s going to be very quiet about it, too. This kid isn’t going to say a heck of a lot, he just lets his play speak for itself.”
According to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, T.J.’s strong combine performance was likely a result of him already knowing how to prepare for such an event thanks to his brothers already going through the pre-draft process.
“I think that is the benefit that he gains from his brothers being in the National Football League,” Tomlin said. “The knowledge of what lies ahead, the mentality regarding training. That was one of the things that was attractive to us as we dined with him in preparation for the pro day.
“Just his outlook regarding preparation and his mentality regarding training was that beyond a guy that’s preparing for the draft and I think that’s the benefit of having older brothers that are National Football League players. I know his workout regimen is probably that that mirrors a veteran player because he has siblings who are.”
During his post-selection conference call with the Pittsburgh media, T.J. talked about how much he’s learned from older brother J.J. and how he looks forward to being known more than just being his younger brother.
“People don’t know the work ethic, the countless hours of film study,” he said, according to Will Graves of the Associated Press. “I was treating myself like a professional athlete while still in college. I learned so much from J.J. … I don’t think people know who I am at this point because I’ve been in such a big shadow.”
The Steelers hope the NFL’s newest Watt can quickly emerge from that big shadow and start posting sack numbers that would make his older brother envious. The Wisconsin product had 11.5 sacks during his one season as a starter and did so in the Big 10 conference.