New Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt registered outstanding numbers at this year’s scouting combine and they were even better than his older brothers’, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Those strong Underwear Olympic measurables aside, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Tuesday during his interview on ‘Movin’ the Chains’ on SiriusXM NFL Radio that the numbers the team’s first-round selection were fine, they weren’t the main thing that impressed them about the Wisconsin product.
“It really wasn’t the combine numbers,” Colbert started to explain. “What intrigued us was the way the kid played the game, especially for just a one year starter at the position. He had accelerated, advanced hand usage for an outside linebacker. I mean, that’s just something that’s learned, but there’s some natural maneuvering with the hands and getting on and off of blocks, and setting the edge in the run game, and using his hands as a pass-rusher.
“You know, he’s not going to be a great edge-speed rusher who just outruns tackles, but he’s going to be able to move them with his hands. That’s what really stood out to us when you watch his tape. A lot of times he’s setting stunts. Usually the setter isn’t the guy making a sack, but he ended up getting a couple sacks when he was the setter. So, those types of things, it was really more the playing and the play demeanor that caught our attention more than the work out numbers.”
It’s easy to agree with Colbert’s assessment of Watt and especially if you’ve seen his sack compilation video that I posted prior to the draft taking place. While Watt does have a little bit of bend to go along with a nice get-off, I rarely saw him just run around a tackle he was facing during the large selection of tape that I watched of him.
However, what is noticeable about Watt on tape is his hand and arm usage. He should only get better in those areas at the NFL level and it won’t hurt that he has 11-inch hands, 33 1/8-inch arms and a 78 7/8-inch wingspan.
The Steelers definitely needed to get an edge-rusher early in this year’s draft and hopefully Watt can start producing pressures for the team’s defense early during his rookie season. It goes without saying that Watt will have the focus of several fans who attend training camp this year. Additionally, you can bet all of us look forward to watching him play during the preseason.