NFL Hot Press: Teams Split on T.J. Watt in the First Round

Teams Split on T.J. Watt in the First Round

Updated April 9, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One of the prospects on the bubble of the first day of the 2017 NFL Draft is Wisconsin edge rusher T.J. Watt. In speaking with teams across the league, they are divided on whether Watt will make it into the first round. There are a lot of edge rush-needy teams picking late in the first round, but there are some questions about Watt translating to certain systems. That could lead to him slipping to the second day of the draft. 

The 6-foot-4, 252-pounder had a breakout 2016 season with 63 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, four passes batted, and two forced fumbles before deciding to skip his senior year. Here are some of the comments on Watt from around the NFL:

One NFC playoff general manager said, “He’s a great kid, I hope he goes in the first round. He’s on the edge.” Another NFC national scout said he could go in the first and he was very close to being a first on their board. Conversely, one AFC director of college scouting said, “No, I think he slips to the second round.” 

Watt is a good fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but his fit in a 4-3 defense isn’t as clear. He could maybe add weight to play defensive end, or play Sam (strongside) linebacker. One general manager of a playoff team said this about Watt translating to a 4-3 defense, “It depends on what type of 4-3 defense you are talking about, but yes, might have a chance.”

Here is how a national scout summarized Watt as a player and his first-round hopes, “It wouldn’t shock me if he went in the first. He’s more of a luxury in the first round. Teams like New England (if they had a first), Baltimore, or Pittsburgh would be great fits for him. They would be ideal if you were to place him.” 

Thus, there is no consensus around the league on where Watt will go in the 2017 NFL Draft. Watt could be selected on Thursday night, but could just as easily fall into Day 2.