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.
We've been chipping away at this scouting series of ours for closing in on four full weeks, and J.J. Watt is the fifth (and final) defensive lineman that we'll have profiled in that run. In the four linemen we covered previously, we saw an awful lot of talent. All of them are considered more talented than Watt, but I promise you this: from an attitude and character standpoint, Watt would be a bigger hit with Bills fans than all of them. The guy is a beast.
Defining Trait: Motor. We realize that "motor" is a dirty word to many Bills fans put off by a litany of high-motor, low-impact defenders of the past decade. You'll see after the jump that production was never an issue for Watt, and that in an absurdly large, strong and athletic bundle, Watt's motor is his greatest asset. He plays the game relentlessly, with reckless abandon and a mean streak. His hustle, grit and determination are easy to spot - and that's why he'd be a hit with Bills fans.
Pass Rush. Quick off the line and is a strong power rusher. Has a very strong bull rush, and can rip and swim effectively off of it. Was athletic enough to bend the edge in college, but that will likely not be the case in the NFL. Not a particularly natural pass rusher; needs to learn to counter better, and is not fluid enough an athlete that he can effectively change direction and pick up pursuit sacks. Plays with great hustle and will always be a solid pass rusher, but this is not the strength of his game. Will disrupt passing lanes when he doesn't get home.
Run Defend. Good anchor. Strong hand punch and base strength allow him to play two gaps effectively, but he makes most of his plays one-gapping and penetrating. When he's polished up technically (he's lacking here due to inexperience), he'll be able to shed blocks with ease. Gets high and loses leverage, and will get sideways and pushed out of plays. In this way, he will sometimes struggle to keep contain. Has a tendency to over-pursue. Needs to improve play recognition, and will be duped by misdirection. Penetrates with power, takes great angles against the run, and can tackle with power. Will struggle to wrap up on occasion. High motor means he's never out of a play; a solid chase player.
College Production. Watt started his college career in 2007 at Central Michigan, where he was a tight end. After one year, he transferred to Wisconsin, took a redshirt in 2008, and then appeared on the Badgers' defensive line in 2009 as a sophomore. Given his position switch and his move to a power conference, his elite-level production surpassed many people's expectations.
J.J. Watt: College Statistics
|J.J. Watt Totals||26||106||36.5||11.5|
Athletic Traits. Elite size and bulk for a five-technique defensive end. Carries his weight extremely well, and has the long arms and hands to jolt and control blockers. Moving from the tight end position, has surprising functional strength throughout his frame - and it can still improve. Has adequate flexibility and body control, allowing him to shoot gaps and chase plays effectively. Lit the Combine up, putting up phenomenal workout numbers for a man his size. What you see on the field is good, but it doesn't exactly match those athletic figures.
J.J. Watt - 2011 Combine Results
Injury Issues. Watt did not miss a game in college - even though he played special teams. (Watt's an excellent special teams player, and has four career blocked kicks to prove it.)