The San Francisco 49ers are in search of edge defenders for their new defense, and the 2017 NFL Draft provides a lot of intriguing talent. Myles Garrett would be the ideal choice, but he is expected to go to the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 overall pick. There has been some mention of Derek Barnett either at No. 2 or with a trade down, but if not, the team has some options after day one.
NFL.com recently posted their list of safest picks on both sides of the ball, and one name listed on defense was a potential day two pick, Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt. They included team fits for each player, and for Watt they included the 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cleveland Browns. Here’s what they had to say about Watt:
Typically, a one-year college starter isn't included on a "safest picks" list. However, Watt's work ethic and athleticism make him worthy of this list. The fact that teams have already seen two Watt brothers, J.J. and Derek, play well in the NFL means he has the genes to make an impact on Sundays. T.J. is one of the few players that possess a high floor and a high ceiling, as he's really just coming into his own on defense.
Lance Zierlein wrote up Watt’s draft profile for NFL.com, and an anonymous scout told him Watt needs to get bigger, but is going to keep getting better. Watt measured in at 6’4, 252 pounds, but Zierlein sees a guy with the necessary length, but also the frame to add more weight. He had this to say in his “bottom line” discussion:
A long-limbed effort rusher who posted impressive numbers against the run and pass in just one year as a starter. He is a tireless worker who pursues from snap to whistle and his brother, J.J., will be a tremendous resource for technique and pass-rush plan. While he is unlikely to win a race to the edge, he's a plus run defender who can get to the quarterback with plus hand work and relentless effort.
I’m curious how Watt’s evaluations are impacted by being J.J.’s brother. Is it possible people give the younger Watt a little more credit because they inherently think of his brother? J.J. is definitely a great resource for T.J. when it comes to technique and developing the tools of a pass rusher, but obviously they are two entirely different players. It would be interesting to see a case study of brothers (or fathers and sons), considering how the younger was evaluated coming out of college after (or during) a successful NFL run by the older.