JJ Watt often gets compared to Adam Carriker and rightly so. They both had stellar college careers, terrific senior bowls and very impressive NFL combines which raised their draft stock. On film, they were both big, lanky, strong, and fast looking college defensive ends that displayed real toughness and hustle. Entering the draft some analysts worried that Carriker might be a DT/DE tweener. Others questioned if he could get his shoulder-pad height low enough for the pros. They questioned if his impressive combine numbers would show up on NFL stat sheets the next year. Naturally, J.J. Watt is getting the same concerns. Is Watt another Carriker? First, let’s look at Carriker’s pro career to see how Carriker is doing and what he is…
In 2007, the St. Louis Rams did not share the concerns of others and drafted Adam Carriker in the first round, 13th overall. In his rookie year, the Rams moved him to the 3-technique, tackle position in a 4-3. His rookie year was considered a disappointment but he did win the Rams rookie of the year award and started all 16 games (how bad could he be? Certainly not Maybin bad). In his 2nd year, he was beat out in camp for his starting spot and battled injuries all year long of a forgettable season. He suffered a severe, season-ending shoulder injury in 2009. This finished his time in St. Louis as they traded him, dirt-cheap, to the Washington Redskins before the 2010 season. Last year, for the Skins, he switched positions and played the 3-4 end, five-technique spot that most projected would be his best position pre-draft. Again, he started all 16 games and was labeled a good get with further potential by many Skins’ sources.
Jim Haslett, our ex-Bill, strangely enough coached Carriker for the Rams and now coaches him for the Skins. He had this to say about Carriker, “In St. Louis, we tried to make him a 3-technique and up-the-field rusher. For a guy who ran the 40 in 4.7 and was 6-6, 315 pounds, you'd think he could do that. But that's not what he wants to do. He wants to play with strength and power, and he does a pretty good job of it. He feels so much more comfortable in this." It sounds as if Haslett thinks that Carriker is held back by some sort of mental problem with playing athletically in the NFL. He certainly feels Carriker could do it if he wanted to.
So far, you would have to say that Carriker, although a bust at 13 for the Rams, could end up with a nice career as a 5-tech DE for the Skins and even has some late-bloomer potential. This, after recovering from a severe injury; is his total bust label deserved? He’s only really played two seasons, and can you fault the Rams GM or Carriker himself, forall the injuries? He was not injury prone in college, so I would have to say no.
Carriker’s junior college stats are very similar to J.J. Watt’s but also to another player; Ndamukong Suh (see below). What’s the difference between Suh and Carriker? They both came back for their senior seasons and where Carriker had slightly poorer yet excellent stats, Suh had a monstrous season of utter domination. That is why good general managers want seniors instead of juniors. If J.J. Watt went back for his senior season, would his numbers be closer to Carriker’s or Suh’s?
Well, taking a hard look at the stats, the first thing you notice is that Carriker played one less game than Watt so you have to take that into account. The next thing you notice is that Watt had 16 more solo tackles and I think that is a big enough difference to at least take note of. Their total tackles behind the line of scrimmage is a wash at 26.5 for Carriker and 28 for Watt. Turnovers are where you see the biggest difference: 6 to 1 in favor of Watt. Watt also blocked 3 kicks for the Badgers as a junior. Maybe this nose for the ball is what separates the two? Maybe this will allow Watt to play up to his athleticism sooner rather than later?
Both Suh and Carriker wowed scouts and fans alike at the NFL combine, but Watt took it to a whole-new level (see below). In a league where 2 tenths of a second makes a huge difference in what round you are drafted, I think that a 3.5” higher and 10” further jump is highly significant. Especially as these are your explosion tests, along with bench press reps (and Watt wins that test as well with 2 more reps.)
Intangibles and intelligence? Again all three score very high in both categories. All three were tough leaders of their teams that didn’t take plays off and didn’t make the paper off-field. Carriker and Suh were Nebraska honor roll students and Watt is an Academic All- American. Both Suh and Carriker are great kids as far as I can find out but once again, Watt is just exceptional. His non-football track-record is simply outstanding.
I will admit that Watt looks exactly like Carriker on film, but just how bad of a thing is that? Carriker was awesome for Nebraska. Maybe he just needs to go to a 3-4 defense and not get a severe injury? Maybe all the little pluses in Watt’s favor are what he needs to separate himself from Carriker and his inability to quickly evolve his game against the world’s best? For me, it seems like I always want the Bills to draft D-line guys. I really liked John Henderson, Albert Haynesworth, Marcus Stroud, and Haloti Ngata coming out of college and I think I like J.J. Watt more than any of them. Maybe because he’s an end like our beloved Bruce Smith. I really hope he doesn’t go to any team I really hate (about half the NFL.)
- GO BILLS!
College stats Jr. season:
Gp tot solo assist tfl sacks ff fr int pd blk QBh
Carriker Jr. 12 43 26 17 17 9.5 0 1 0 3 0 21
Watt Jr. 13 62 42 20 21 7 2 3 1 9 3 10
Suh Jr. 13 76 39 37 19 7.5 1 0 2 3 2 7
Hgt. Wt. armL hand reps. Vert. brd 20 yd.-S 3-cone
Carriker 6’6” 296 335/8” 9 5/8 32 33.5” 9’2” 4.18 7.06
Watt 6’53/8” 290 34” 111/8” 34 37 10’ 4.21 6.88
Suh 6’4” 307 331/2” 101/4” 32 35.5 8’9” 4.44 7.21