Name: DE J.J. Watt
Size: 6'5, 290 lbs
Expected Round: 1st
40 Time: 4.81s
Career Stats: Click Here.
Strengths: Elite 3-4 DE frame. Incredible athleticism and is the most athletic 3-4 DE in the draft. Explodes through the line off the snap. Great power to break through blocks and great speed to get around the corner. Incredible motor. Requires a double team to stop his relentless pass rush. Usually able to time the snap well. Extremely aware of passing lanes and will always get his hands up to try and knock the ball down at the line. Great movement on the line to cut inside and catch linemen off balance. Excellent character.
Weaknesses: Gets caught up in chasing the ball carrier that he loses his lane control and can give up yards. Lacks a final explosive step to reach the ball carrier and appears to only sustain his initial momentum; if he's stopped, then he seems to struggle to break through. He doesn't give up, but he doesn't make as much progress, and he certainly won't against better competition. Sometimes gets too high in his stance and can get blown backwards on running downs. Can be called for offsides for premature jumping. A little on the small size and will have to grow his trunk.
Why and Why Not the Patriots after the jump, and my final verdict!
Why the Patriots?: Watt is easily the best pass rushing 3-4 DE who may be available for the Patriots. Non-stop motor and he'll always be a threat to generate pressure on the opposing quarterback. He's a phenomenal locker room guy who will bring his lunchpail to work every day in order to improve his game. He has tremendous upside and could be the pass rushing link that the Patriots need on the defensive line.
Why Not the Patriots?: Watt doesn't seem to have a strong grasp on run defense and instead just wants to get into the backfield and disrupt passing plays. If the Patriots go up by a lot, Watt may be a good pick because opposing teams will be throwing the ball. However, if that's not the fact, Watt will be a liability in the run defense. He can get stonewalled by a single blocker in run defense and run out of the play. He's a player with Mike Wright's skill set in a body with ten times the athleticism- a great addition on passing downs, big question mark on running downs.
Verdict: When I watch Watt, I see the glamor pushing him beyond Heyward and Wilkerson as a prospect. Everyone loves the fact that he's in the backfield all the time and they assume that it's positive pressure. I see a player abandoning his lane who doesn't have a final burst to reach the ball carrier. Without a second burst, I see his pass rushing ability becoming less effective against greater competition. I see a player who will struggle against the run if he's expected to watch two gaps and who won't flourish in the Patriots' defense. He has great athleticism and upside, but I honestly don't see him putting it together with the Patriots. He's a great guy and I wish him the best success, but I don't see why he has such a higher rating than the other DEs and I don't seem him fitting with the Patriots. The Patriots need a DE who can stop the run and pressure the quarterback. Watt can pressure the quarterback and really pressure the quarterback. I don't want to get drawn in when there are a lot of flaws with his game.