New Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt certainly enters the NFL with a strong football pedigree as evidenced by his two older brothers, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Los Angeles Rams fullback Derek Watt. J.J. Watt, the more widely-known and established of the brothers, believes his younger brother T.J. is further along in his development as a football player than he was upon entering the NFL in 2011 as a first-round pick.
“He’s so similar to me but he’s farther along than I was at that point in the process,” J.J. Watt said a few weeks ago, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s a lot better player than I was at that time. He has a lot more to grow even than I had. I think he’s a really special player and it’s been a lot of fun to watch him go through the process.
“He’s so hungry. He’s just itching to learn and grow as a person and as a player so he is always asking questions, he’s always wanting to compete in the workouts.”
While just a one year starter on defense at Wisconsin after making the move from tight end ahead of the 2015 season, T.J. Watt registered 11.5 sacks in 2016. To put those numbers in some sort of perspective, J.J. Watt registered 11 sacks during his two years at Wisconsin that included him playing in 26 games.
“He worked his butt off,” J.J. Watt said of his brother’s 2016 season during a Friday conference call with the Pittsburgh media, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s always been a natural athlete, he’s always been a little more smooth than I was. When he started to play [defense], he just had a knack for it, things that didn’t necessarily come natural to me.
“I’ve seen how much work he’s put into it. It’s so exciting for me to watch him this last season, just watching him rush the passer. He plays the game with so much joy. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
After the Steelers selected T.J. Watt with the 30th overall selection in Thursday night’s first-round, general manager Kevin Colbert talked about how the team’s newest addition hasn’t even started to scratch the surface as far as his development as a defensive player goes.
“Yeah, and that’s my selling point,” T.J. Watt said during his conference call with the media late Thursday night. “I was a first or second-team All-American on 18 months of playing defense. I am truly scratching the surface on what I can do. I feel like the sky is the limit for what I can do on the field.”
Moving forward, T.J. Watt is expected to backup veteran starting outside linebacker James Harrison on the right side of the defense and the team obviously hopes he’ll eventually take over as a longtime starter at that position sooner rather than later. T.J. Watt knows all about Harrison, as you can probably imagine.
“I have watched him [Harrison] for years growing up, and especially since I switched over to defense, I have watched him more and more, T.J. Watt said during his media conference call. “He is a really good, veteran presence. He is a really good football player. I can’t wait to get under the tutelage of him and that locker room.”
It won’t be long until the Steelers get to see T.J. Watt on a football field as the team’s annual rookie minicamp is set for May 12-14 at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. With T.J. Watt’s NFL acilimation period still ahead of him, J.J. Watt hopes his younger brother is treated appropriately be his new teammates.
“Look over my brother, make sure to haze him a little extra for me,” J.J. Watt texted Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, a former teammate of his at Central Michigan before J.J. Watt transferred to Wisconsin.