The Pittsburgh Steelers have almost become “First-Round LB University” over the past ten seasons. Countless picks have been spent on linebackers. Even in 2017 when the Steelers had more glaring needs, they decided to take outside linebacker TJ Watt as the eventual heir apparent to James Harrison.
Through one game, the decision is already paying off.
Watt had two sacks of Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer and picked him off once on a play where he had to elevate to get up. Add five tackles to that stat line and you will have Watt’s first career stat line in a regular season game. He is the third player in NFL history to record two sacks and have an interception in their first career game. Not too shabby for the rookie.
While his brother, JJ Watt, has been dominating the NFL in the Houston Texans front seven for a few years, Watt will have the opportunity to rival his brother. It’ll be tough to live up to JJ’s standards as he is potentially the best defensive player in the entire league. That doesn’t mean he can’t reach it, though.
Watt is a bit under sized for an ideal linebacker but that didn’t stop him at Wisconsin and he won’t let it affect him in the big leagues. Watt is a dynamic linebacker who certainly may not have the pass rushing abilities as fellow outside linebacker Harrison, but he may be more athletic in the sense that he can make a splash play on the ball. Harrison specializes in pass rushing.
While it can’t be expected that Watt will have 32 sacks and 16 interceptions this season, it is okay to maybe boost your expectations for him a little higher than you previously had. It looks like he will get the majority of the time in the regular season. The postseason may be given to Harrison. Maybe not all the time, but he will pick up more time as he’ll be fresh and more experienced.
He is still JJ’s brother, so Watt else did you expect?