Most Wisconsin fans probably remember that the Badgers weren’t even ranked in the top 25 at the start of the 2016-17 season. They were kind of an after thought in what appeared to be a loaded conference and most thought that even if they were good, they would break under the pressure of what appeared to be a very tough schedule. Not many people gave them hope against what was thought to be a very tough LSU team in the first week of the season. It was during that game that the sports world started to see that the Badgers had a lot better defense than they were getting credit for.
Yet, it took some time for people to realize that the virtually unknown , T.J. Watt, who had seven total tackles while making the first start of his Badgers career, was a major reason for the team’s success. He ended the season with 59 total tackles and a Big 10 leading 10.5 sacks.
However, the converted tight end, who changed positions when the Badgers coaching staff asked him to in 2015, is way more than just a tackling machine or a pass rusher. He is a definite difference maker.
Watt is very opportunistic, has very quick feet and always has a clear picture of right where he is on the field and where he needs to be to make a huge play. People see him as an outside pass rusher but he is so much more than that. He can blitz from almost any position on the field and is a tremendous run stopper as evidenced by 16 tackles for a loss.
He also has a way to get in opponents head and rattle them so that he can make a big play. Here you see that in action.
Watt is able to sniff out the play, eliminate the primary target, and then bait the opposing quarterback into giving him the ball.
And here is the result of his IQ, size, athleticism and speed…
This kid is dangerous in so many ways. Yet, people keep making excuses for his success. The competition is weak, the Badgers defense makes players look better than they are, he got lucky and he’s overrated because of his last name.
So to prove them wrong he went out and had a very solid combine.
He may not have J.J.’s size and strength but he does have even better athleticism and speed. What’s even more astounding is the similarities between his combine and Clay Matthews combine.
Watt ran a 4.69, 40. Matthews ran 4.67.
Watt had 23 bench reps. Matthews 21
Watt’s vertical was 35.5. Matthews 37.
Watt’s broad jump 10.1″. Matthews 10.8″
Watt’s 3 cone 6.9. Matthews 6.79
Watt’s 20 yard shuttle 4.18. Matthews 4.13.
So the truth is while everyone one is comparing him to his brother who is a defensive end, he seems to be more like the Green Bay Packers outside linebacker who has accumulated 72.5 sacks for the Packers and should easily find himself in the top 50 All-Time.
Ironically, the Packers traded up for Matthews and could find themselves in a position to do the same for Watt. The youngster has put up the numbers, made game changing plays and had a terrific combine but for some reason critics are afraid that someone is going to take him to high because he might not ever live up to the legacy of his older brother. The truth is, the most sacks J.J. ever had in a season at Wisconsin was 7… T.J. has him beat by 3.5.
So, it would appear that the credit my be going to the wrong brother.