(Editor's Note: With less than a week until the start of the 2017 NFL Draft on April 27, the staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Wisconsin's T.J. Watt.)
Name: T.J. Watt
Position: Defensive End
Honors: In 2016, his only year as a starter, Watt was named an All-American by various media outlets.
Key Stat: Watt redshirted as a freshman and sat out his sophomore year with a knee injury, but he produced 11.5 sacks as a senior in only his second season moving from tight end to defense.
Where He's Projected: Most draft observers believe Watt could go off the board somewhere in the back half of the first round, or if not, a team could grab him in the early part of the second round.
How He Helps The Cowboys:Pass rush. Many draft observers believe Watt is scheme-versatile, able to put his hand on the ground in a 4-3 scheme like the Cowboys' or stand up as a 3-4 outside linebacker as he did at Wisconsin. At only 252 pounds, he's a different type of player than his older brother, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, but he's similarly praised for his motor as a rusher. The Cowboys' defense produced its highest sack total (36) since 2011 last season, but the front office has indicated they'd like to add another pressure player to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's rotation. This is believed to be a deep draft for defensive ends, so it remains to be seen whether the team looks for help at another position first.
Scout's Take: Can close from the backside. Can cover some ground. Plays with his hands. Can get rid of blockers. Some upper body power. Hold the point. Aware to find the ball. Good on the twist stunt. Power in hands. Can snap the blocker. Not good with his drops. Needs more pass rush moves. Can change directions. Does a really nice job of attacking blockers. Relentless in the way he plays. Never slows down or stops. Nice anticipation in the way he plays. Has the vision to see gaps and cracks then work through them. Outstanding football instincts. Was the team leader when it came to tackles for loss. Reacts well to the ball. Can create turnovers. Will throw his body around. Works to be disruptive. Plays with balance. Stays on his feet. Came to Wisconsin as a tight end so has really had two seasons of defensive experience. Not a twitchy type of player when it comes to athletic ability. Is going to win the majority of his battles with effort and technique. Will have to develop some rush with his hand down. Right kind of guy on and off the field.
- Bryan Broaddus