Former Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL Draft with the 30th overall pick. The pick was unsurprising, as rumors of the Black and Gold’s interest in Watt had been flying for some time.
The younger brother of Texans superstar J.J. Watt, T.J. declared for the draft after a redshirt junior season in which he received All-Big Ten honors and was named second team All-American. The Pewaukee, WI native came to Wisconsin as a tight end before switching to defensive end a year later. However, due to a 2015 injury, Watt didn’t see the field on the defensive side of the ball until this past season. Yet he made himself known last year with 11.5 sacks and 63 tackles in 2016.
The Steelers will expect Watt to contribute from the get-go, as Pittsburgh is thin at the outside linebacker position. James Harrison is 38 years old at a position where youth is prized, and Bud Dupree has shown little promise since entering the league. Watt is a great scheme fit in the Steelers’ 3-4 defensive front, as he provides a combination of size and speed.
Watt was the first Badger selected in this year’s NFL Draft.