Why it’s not a stretch to believe T.J. Watt will be the best Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker of 2017


Pittsburgh Steelers fans were ecstatic when the team drafted T.J. Watt 30th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.

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The brother of All-Pro defensive end, J.J. Watt, dominated college football for two years before becoming the newest member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now, at only 22-years-old, Watt is looking to continue his dominance on the field at the next level. With the group of linebackers Pittsburgh has around him, Watt is going to be surrounded with plenty of talent and leadership in his rookie campaign.

Just because he’s being taught, though, doesn’t mean he can’t be the best. Even as a rookie, with Pro Bowlers Ryan Shazier and James Harrison playing alongside him, and Bud Dupree and Vince Williams in the group as well, it’s realistic to believe that Watt can be the best linebacker in Pittsburgh in 2017.

When you bring in someone from the draft, whether they’re ready to play or not, you’re going to praise them as a teammate. No one who’s ever succeeded within a team has told the media, “so and so isn’t ready to play.”

This time, it’s different. Watt is ready to play. He’s taken first team reps all throughout OTAs and whether he actually starts over James Harrison or not won’t matter in playing time. With Harrison being 39-years-old, these two will split time no matter who gets the first set of downs.

Even linebacker coach, Joey Porter, knows how well Watt is playing after less than a month of being on the team.

“As many practices as we’ve had I can count how many mistakes he’s made on one hand. And that’s rare,” Porter told Jacob Klinger of PennLive. “So I’m comfortable with where he’s at and anything going forward, we’ll just see how it goes.”

Watt would only be entering his junior year of college, but mentally he’s capable of adapting to any situation. He’s one of the smartest players in his draft class, and as long as he continues to work hard, there will be nothing stopping him from being Pittsburgh’s go-to man when the team needs a playmaker on defense.

On top of everything he already brings to the team, Watt is learning behind one of the Steel City’s all-time best pass rushers, James Harrison. Maybe he’ll never be able to put up the numbers Harrison does in the weight room, but when it comes to on the field play, learning from Pittsburgh’s all-time leading sacker isn’t an opportunity many players get.

While teams will keep an eye on Watt, their primary focus won’t be the rookie linebacker. Ryan Shazier will be opposing offenses’ top priority, with Bud Dupree likely their second concern. Until someone realizes Watt is just as deadly as the other four linebackers on the team, he’ll be able to work against simple game plans designed to prevent others instead of himself.

It isn’t far fetched to say T.J. Watt will be Pittsburgh’s top linebacker in 2017. Expectations should be somewhere near his 11.5 sack finish at Wisconsin. Maybe he’s splitting time and has four other linebackers around him that are all highly touted, but once he uses everything he’s learned and learning, he’ll be nearly unstoppable from the outside.

He’s a Watt. We’ve watched J.J. dominate for six years. Now, T.J. joins the mix and has the potential to overshadow his All-Pro brother.

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Just wait. T.J. Watt is going to surprise a lot of people this season. Right from the start, expect him to be the Steel City’s best edge rusher as he becomes the next best thing in Pittsburgh.