Even as a highly touted first round pick, T.J. Watt isn’t taking anything for granted.
Speaking to reporters after minicamp practice, Watt said he’s taking it day-by-day, the same approach as a later round pick, an undrafted player, or someone in Pittsburgh on a tryout.
“I wouldn’t say easy,” he told reporters via Steelers.com. “I’m in the NFL, nothing comes easy here. But at the same time, I’m just trying to stay in my books as much as possible and make this transition as fluid as possible. Just go out here and make as many as many plays as I can early on.”
That said, his early assessment of camp that he was “assimilating” well to the NFL, though as Mike Tomlin would point out, rookie minicamp isn’t a proper gauge for NFL speed.
In the interview on the team site, he certainly said all the right things. He took a quiet, humble approach, pointing out his mentality of focusing on short-term goals instead of long-term. He said he isn’t much of a nightlife guy, placing his focus on football, learning from his two older brothers who made it into the NFL.
“I’m not a guy who really goes out and does any of the nightlife activity. On weekends, it was easy for me,” Watt said, responding to the challenges of balancing football and school.
Rookie minicamp isn’t the time to gauge a player’s ability. It’s about installing the basics of the playbook and getting the rookies into the routine of how an NFL practice and environment will work. But Watt seems to be taking the transition in stride.
Initially, it’s a similar path Maurkice Pouncey took as he made it into the NFL. I, and maybe you do too, specifically remember him saying the NFL playbook wasn’t too difficult, not in a moment of arrogance, but confidence. Go watch the video on the team website, linked above, and you see some baseline similarities. If Watt can have anything close to Pouncey’s career, the Steelers will have hit another home run in the first round.