MADISON WI - OCTOBER 16: J.J. Watt #99 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a sack against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 16 2010 in Madison Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Ohio State 31-18. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Keep up to date on our Baker's Dozen series here.
Among the unheralded five-technique defensive ends being projected as darkhorse draft-day options for the Bills, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt has, for whatever reason, gotten considerably less buzz than California's Cameron Jordan. Both are outstanding prospects, and ideal fits for a 3-4 defense. I asked Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft which he preferred as a five-technique prospect, and his answer speaks to how close the race is.
Speaking from the perspective of a pure 3-4 team -like Pittsburgh, for instance - Watt might be more of an ideal choice," Kadar told me. "As good as Jordan can be holding the edge, Watt may be a little better there. Although Wisconsin is a 4-3 team, they moved Watt to tackle enough to where he should know how to play an inside gap already. They're disgustingly similar though. When I publish new site rankings sometime this weekend, they're only two players apart, with Jordan at No. 12 higher than Watt at No. 14."
In an attempt to try to separate the two prospects, I asked Kadar whether he thought one offered more 4-3 versatility than the other. Given that the Bills will still be using hybrid looks next year, additional versatility might make one a more appealing short-term option than the other. Again, the race is close.
"He offers about the same (to a 4-3)," Kadar said. "They're both high motor guys with a similar body type and athletic skill set. It's kind of hard to contrast the two, to be honest. In a 4-3 system, Watt is a power end with a good swim move and a very good bull rush. He's not as explosive as Jordan, though. Jordan can also move around easier. That's why Jordan is ranked higher for me. Watt probably has the edge in power and instincts."
Of course, the big question is whether or not Watt is talented enough to be taken at No. 3 overall. Most Bills fans pining after Watt admit that he'd look better after a trade down, and Kadar agrees - though he wouldn't be surprised to see Watt break easily into the Top 10.
"If Arizona needed a defensive end, it wouldn't surprise me to see him go that high," Kadar said. "More realistically, though, he's probably in play for Dallas with the ninth overall pick. Jordan should be too. Buffalo's pick is probably a little too high for him. The only caveat would be if the Bills just fall in love with getting an end, Marcell Dareus is gone, and they don't like Nick Fairley. A small trade back would be nice, wouldn't it?"