Wisconsin’s Watt is Top Tier DE Draft Prospect

March 14, 2011 | Brian Billick

JJ Watt is a DE prospect that is gaining a lot of momentum going into April’s draft.  JJ has always been considered a top 5 Defensive End is this years class, but recently, some experts are now considering him a top 10 overall pick.  I have him ranked as my third best defensive end behind Quinn and Bowers, but he differs slightly in overall skill-set.  While Quinn and Bowers both play a traditional DE positions in a 4-3 defense, Watt will give his team versatility both inside and outside.  I see him being most impactful as a 5-tech in a 3-4.

Watt is physically imposing, standing 6’5 3/8 and weighing in at 290 pounds.  His combine numbers were extremely impressive for a man his size: 34 reps, 4.84 40-yard dash, and a 37″ vertical.  I tend to look at the vertical jump before any other number when evaluating talent as it gives you a great indicator of overall explosion.  Watt’s 37″ jump was 2nd best among all defensive lineman at the draft behind only Dontay Moch, whom I am evaluating as a OLB rather than DE, and at least 3 inches more than the other popular top 5 DE prospects.

On tape, Watt shows great anticipation and very effective rip and swim moves at the line of scrimmage and has the athleticism and footwork for a quick spin move to avoid contact.  Similarly, he shuffles his feet well and can disengage from blockers to make plays on either side.  He uses his length and long arms to bat down balls at the LOS and disrupt passing lanes for the quarterback.

JJ Watt is a disruptive force that has a relentless motor and work ethic.  He will be a great leader and high character player for many years to come in the NFL.