Friday, April 28, 2017

Steelers Take Watt With 1st Pick

Jeremy FowlerESPN Staff Writer 28, 2017
Jeremy Fowler breaks down the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2017 draft class.
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Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Round 1, No. 30 overall: T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin

My take: Can't knock the need. Pass rush help was on the menu for Pittsburgh, which now has its James Harrison replacement for 2018 or beyond. Watt will be highly motivated, is a unique athlete and has the Watt pedigree as a younger brother of Houston Texans star J.J. With plenty of other defensive options available at No. 30 -- including Washington cornerback Kevin King and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster -- this pick doesn't come without questions. Some evaluators graded Watt as a second-rounder. He started one season at Wisconsin, and though he was productive with 11.5 sacks, he might need time to work his way into the Steelers' nuanced 3-4 defense. This seems like a quality pick, but it won't be a special one unless Watt makes it so.
Christmas clash: Assuming both are healthy, the Watt brothers will play on Christmas Day in Houston. Watt said that will be strange. "I played with him in the backyard a bunch, I've seen him play a bunch, but we've never been on the same field in full uniforms competitively before," Watt said. "I think it will be really cool and a weird day for me." Watt is the first Wisconsin defender to get drafted in the first round since J.J. went 11th overall in 2011.
High five: The Steelers have now used five straight first-round picks on defense (as well as eight of their past nine first- and second-round picks on D since 2013). Four of those five first-rounders were linebackers -- Jarvis Jones(2013), Ryan Shazier (2014), Bud Dupree and Watt. Like Dupree and Shazier before him, Watt brings athleticism to the locker room. The second-team All-American led all front-seven NFL combine participants in the 60-yard shuttle (11.20 seconds). Watt isn't as quick twitch as Dupree but understands how to use his 33-inch arms and 11-inch hands for leverage.
What's next: The Steelers believe the cornerback and tight end depth in this draft is strong. They could utilize both positions with three picks (Nos. 60, 90 and 101) on Day 2. Among the prospects to watch are Washington safety Budda Baker, Michigan tight end Jake Butt, N.C. State safety Josh Jones, Ohio State inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan and East Carolina receiver Zay Jones. The Steelers will likely add pass-catching help for Ben Roethlisberger at some point this week.

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