War Daddy. We all heard Jerry speak this term and cringe. What could he mean? This team has failed twice in three years to advance to the conference title game because of 2 things. One, is the leagues best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. The other? The lack of pass rush, or game changing performance players on defense.
Think about it. When was the last time this team has had a player on the EDGE that teams had to gameplan for? Someone who could instil fear in a QB, and free up DTs for better rushes? You’d be lying if you don’t think of DeMarcus Ware. Teams win games with “War Daddies”, so to speak. Von Miller, Khalil Mack, JJ Watt, Vic Beasley, to name a few guys who have helped turn their franchises’ defense around.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, TJ Watt, LB/EDGE from Wisconsin, needs to be that guy. It has been a decade since the Cowboys have drafted a pass rusher in the first round. In the last 4 seasons, as a team, they’ve averaged 32 sacks per season. In a Rod Marinelli defense, you need pressure to create turnovers. Think the 2012 Bears, who led the league in takeaways, and had 41 sacks. Due to lack of play making ability on the EDGE, and personnel at DB, this team has had to play more man than its preferred Cover-2/Cover-3 sets.
Watt is viewed as an OLB or SLB by many, but the team has been reported to view him as a DE or 9-tech in our scheme. Dallas viewed Minnesota’s Anthony Barr the same way coming out. At first glance a DE at his size (6-4 252lbs) can be deceiving. Many teams prefer a bigger guy but in this defense Dallas prefers a speedy athetlic guy.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller is very high on him, and it’s not just because his last name. TJ is the real deal. A player with hustle, and tenacity who always finds his way to lay big hits and finish plays. Above, you can see him attacking the guard and tackle, showing his versatility to get to the QB.
Per PFF Watt was successful (sack, hit, hurry) on every 4.5 pass rushing attempts. Compared that to Takk McKinley’s 5.4 attempts another guy Dallas has been linked to, and now we’re cooking.
Watt, 22, would slide right into our RE, giving us a starting DL of Watt, Crawford, Thornton, Lawrence, with Collins in his second year getting reps from Crawford at 3T DT. David Irving, another young rusher with promise could come in on rushing downs with Charles Tapper, a 2nd year player with measureables that Dallas prefers, also waiting in the wings.
If you look at the trends, Dallas prefers an athlete. They’ve been big on high SPARQ measurements or spider chart winners. MockDraftable.com has been a reliable source to reference their profiles, having Irving finish in the 96th and 92nd percentile in the Broad and Vertical Jump respectively showing his explosion. Charles Tapper, projected as more of a speed rusher, is compared to DeMarcus Lawrence on their site, a good comp for a LE, Lawrence’s true position.
Watt is able to win with a variety of moves, but most notably his push-pull or rip technique has been successful. One thing scouts and most of “Draft Twitter” would like to see, is TJ winning with his speed on a straight rush, or add some new moves. Now, if you think Rod can’t do that for him, you haven’t seen what he’s gotten out of Jason Hatcher, David Irving, George Selvie, among others. Watt has his “Hive” of fans and haters. You either love him at 28 or loathe him. In the end, he’s the safest DE pick, with no baggage, and a high ceiling.
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