Colbert Says Watt’s Hand Usage Is Advanced

New Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt registered outstanding numbers at this year’s scouting combine and they were even better than his older brothers’, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Those strong Underwear Olympic measurables aside, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Tuesday during his interview on ‘Movin’ the Chains’ on SiriusXM NFL Radio that the numbers the team’s first-round selection were fine, they weren’t the main thing that impressed them about the Wisconsin product.

“It really wasn’t the combine numbers,” Colbert started to explain. “What intrigued us was the way the kid played the game, especially for just a one year starter at the position. He had accelerated, advanced hand usage for an outside linebacker. I mean, that’s just something that’s learned, but there’s some natural maneuvering with the hands and getting on and off of blocks, and setting the edge in the run game, and using his hands as a pass-rusher.

“You know, he’s not going to be a great edge-speed rusher who just outruns tackles, but he’s going to be able to move them with his hands. That’s what really stood out to us when you watch his tape. A lot of times he’s setting stunts. Usually the setter isn’t the guy making a sack, but he ended up getting a couple sacks when he was the setter. So, those types of things, it was really more the playing and the play demeanor that caught our attention more than the work out numbers.”

It’s easy to agree with Colbert’s assessment of Watt and especially if you’ve seen his sack compilation video that I posted prior to the draft taking place. While Watt does have a little bit of bend to go along with a nice get-off, I rarely saw him just run around a tackle he was facing during the large selection of tape that I watched of him.

However, what is noticeable about Watt on tape is his hand and arm usage. He should only get better in those areas at the NFL level and it won’t hurt that he has 11-inch hands, 33 1/8-inch arms and a 78 7/8-inch wingspan.

The Steelers definitely needed to get an edge-rusher early in this year’s draft and hopefully Watt can start producing pressures for the team’s defense early during his rookie season. It goes without saying that Watt will have the focus of several fans who attend training camp this year. Additionally, you can bet all of us look forward to watching him play during the preseason.

Video: Wisconsin Edge T.J. Watt Sack Compilation Highlights

  • Jason

    So many edge guys come in the league relying solely on speed and find out these tackles are just way more agile than most guys they’ve faced so the fact that he’s ahead of the game in hand usage and still has adequate speed is encouraging.

  • Taylor Williams

    He can either train with deebo or his brothers. If he’s anything like JJ Watt, then he’s gonna be a monster. Still baffles me how much fans wanted a safety in round one.

  • Jacob

    It is often said he had better combine numbers than his brother JJ. But JJ was packing an extra 50 pounds in weight. No small difference.

  • Michael James

    I was sceptical at first, but after digging deeper into his film, I’m pumped. I think he’s the real deal. His hand usage is advanced, he has a mean streak and you can see that he has a natural understanding of the game. Get-off and bending ability are more than ok, too.
    While watching his film I was actually surprised that he actually got very few pass-rush opportunities off the edge. That’s really interesting given the fact that he still managed to record 11.5 sacks.

  • Luneth Gardens

    The major thing I noticed from the highlights after each of the pass rusher prospects were selected is that Watt consistently had to get off blocks to make his tackles, where as Myles Garrett and so many of the other guys selected ahead of him just blew past the tackles untouched. I’m pretty sure at the NFL level that ain’t gonna happen for even Myles Garrett so I’m super pumped about Watt and hoping Garrett turns out to be a disappointment. As I recall a lot of Jarivis’ sacks in college came from just beating the tackle. Look how that turned out for us. Even with Dupree’s super get-off, he still is working on learning how to use his hands to shed. I can’t wait to see this kid play!

  • Chris92021

    Honestly, unless that safety was a healthy Malik Hooker or Jamal Adams, I wasn’t interested in a safety in round 1.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I’m excited for Watt, but I think the draft would have fell more in our favor taking a DB first pick, but I’m stoked either way!

  • The Sun is Pro-Black


  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    It’s so encouraging to see him bullying lineman this early in his development. His instincts and pass rush moves make you believe he’s played the position his entire life. He just has that natural feel for the game, fearless, sacrifices his body and never gives up on a play. My biggest concerns are the injuries and if he can hold the edge in the NFL. He’ll need to gain a good 10-15 lbs. I think.

  • D.j. Hoy

    I think the fact that JJ said TJ is more advanced than he was at this stage is incredible. Porter has an incredible tool to work with!

  • PaeperCup

    That’s what she said 😀

  • Jim Foles

    Garrett will have keep his energy levels up at 2-10 … he is used to being 11-1

  • capehouse

    Since you’re so confused I decided to help you out a bit.

    Pick #25 Jabrill Peppers- Rumored Interest.
    Pick #36 Budda Baker- Pre Draft Visit.
    Pick #39 Marcus Maye- Pro Day Dinner with Colbert.
    Pick #42 Marcus Williams- Combine Meeting.
    Pick #56 Obi Melifonwu- Pre Draft Visit.
    Pick #61 Josh Jones- Pre Draft Visit.

    Make more sense now why fans wanted a round 1 Safety?

  • DoctorNoah

    However JJ was three times the size and just as quick. 😉

  • DoctorNoah

    Went back to watch sack compilation. A bunch amwhere literally no one picked him up. One up the middle against an undersized back. A few that demonstrate that good hand usage. He is going to need to go to Deebo school and get some serious upper and lower body strength if he is expected to bull rush an NFL lineman. He still looks like a tight end in those videos.

  • Danielsteelstrong81

    Yea but jj got 11 sacks in 2yrs and tj got 11 sacks in 1 yr big difference there

  • D.j. Hoy

    JJ was 1 inch taller, 38lbs heavier. Same vert, JJ did 13 more bench. TJ had better numbers in every other category

  • D.j. Hoy

    Definitely not saying he will be as good as JJ. Just saying that’s huge coming from arguably the best defensive player in the league.

  • PaeperCup

    Huh? Not sure if we watched the same video. I did not see that at all. there was only 2 where he had a clear path untouched.

    Several sacks were just hustle plays. Most of them though he’s seen tossing the blocker aside.
    True he may not have the beef to rush through an NFL tackle, but the sack against Iowa he pushes the tackle back 8 yards. But with his hand usage, bull rushes won’t be as necessary.

  • PaeperCup

    To me, these Safeties play duel rolls that actually cover two positions of need….sounded good to me. But I think we got one of the top edge prospects in the draft. Very happy.

  • dany

    If he’s anything like JJ he will build a cabin in the woods in a couple of years to train. Maybe invite Harrison over 🙂

  • Kevin Artis

    I wonder what they said about Jarvis Jones. 😞

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I think I’m leaning toward the good Doctor Noah on this one (if I understand your point).

    JJ Watt came into the NFL at 6’5″, 290, with 34″ arms, and 34 bench reps. That is elite size, and elite power, and elite length. To go along with that, he had outstanding explosion and quickness. His brother TJ does not have the same measurables. He’s an inch shorter all around and almost 40 POUNDS lighter. That’s a big difference in my view.

    JJ beats NFL OT’s because he’s just as big as them but often stronger and/or quicker. TJ will not beat them with brute strength. He will have to win with quickness and technique, which is not easily done at this level.

    I think the fact that TJ is a hard worker will help him tremendously. He should be able to put on some productive weight, and get stronger, and if he listens to his brother (and Deebo) he should improve his technique to the point that he can beat opponents with expert skill. But I do not believe for one minute that TJ will be the same caliber of player or athlete as JJ.

    Having said all that, I think TJ will be a helluva lot better pass rusher than Jarvis Jones (who we picked at #17 overall) and probably more effective than Bud Dupree (who we drafted at #22 overall) so in that sense we got solid value at #30.

    I am happy TJ is on our team, but I probably would’ve been a little happier drafting Kevin King at 1.30, then Jordan Willis or Derek Rivers at 2.30, because I think they are all pretty close to the same edge type player, but King is significantly better than Sutton.

    Anyway. It’s over now. I am encouraged by TJ’s technique and I expect him to get even better by the end of the 2017 season. If he gives us 10-12 sacks per year, he’ll equate to a very good pick at 1.30 in my view.

  • Michael James

    To be fair, TJ is a tremendous athlete, too. He and Willis were by far the best athletes (at EDGE) behind Garrett at the combine. His 142.0 SPARQ score puts him in the 95th percentile of NFL edge rushers.

  • Michael James

    Of course, those comparisons are just stupid. However, TJ did have a great combine as well.

  • Zarbor

    Then you must either be blind or not too smart to be baffled that many wanted a safety in round one. I wanted TJ and predicted we would take him as we did. However, did you not see the TEs in this league trashing the Steelers defense all year? Did you not see a TE not named Gronk destroy us in the AFC playoffs? Its not that baffling.

    I wanted Obi in the second round and was hoping we would go up to go get him. Guess they did not think he was worth it or as in Colbert fashion wait to see if he drops to us. I’m glad Peppers got drafted so we wouldn’t take him