There’s nothing little about J.J. Watt’s little brother.
NFL Draft prospect T.J. Watt is a 6-foot-5, 240-pound weapon with a college highlight reel of him wrecking opposing offenses. Clip after clip, there’s Watt brushing off blockers and double teams to deliver big-time tackles. He’s exactly the kind of playmaking linebacker that seems to have eluded the Dolphins for years and he’s on their minds with the draft two months away.
Miami management met with Watt at the Senior Bowl a few weeks ago, and there are plenty of ways this team could use him. He went to Wisconsin projected as a monster tight end, but switched to defense and made a name for himself at inside and outside linebacker, as well as defensive end. He also played on four special teams units.
“I bring a lot of versatility,” he said. “For me, it’s about being a team player and being committed to the team. I’ll play wherever they need me. Any of those spots, I want to go in there and make a team better.”
At 22, he’s already got a polished public persona and that probably has a lot to do with J.J.’s rise to fame over the past few years. J.J. Watt is a four-time all-pro with 76 career sacks for the Texans, and their other brother is Chargers fullback Derek Watt.
Beyond his NFL siblings, Watt’s been heavily influenced by former Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga and ex-Badgers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor.
“Not just great players, but I was able to model their preparation,” Watt said.
Watt left after his junior year with the Badgers and is expected to go as early as the back end of the first round. ESPN ranks him the seventh-best linebacker, fifth among those who primarily play outside. The Dolphins get another look at him when they travel to the Combine in a few weeks as they weigh their most pressing needs.
As it stands, prior to free agency starting in a month, it’s clear Miami will look to add at tight end and linebacker. It’s highly likely those are the positions the team will hit with the 22nd and 54th overall picks. A pass rusher would be nice, too, and Watt could be a factor in that role.
If linebacker is the priority, many mock drafts forecast most players at that position still being available for the Dolphins’ first-round selection. The Post’s mock draft has them taking Florida outside linebacker Jarrad Davis. Watt would be more likely if the team takes a tight end early.
The Dolphins went into last season with Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi as their starting outside linebackers, and Jenkins started seven games and now becomes an unrestricted free agent. Misi missed most of the year because of a neck injury, and his future is uncertain. That’s part of why they finished third-to-last in run defense and came within 300 yards of the highest rushing total the franchise has ever allowed.
“There are avenues where we can fix things, but we’re not going to rush through it,” general manager Chris Grier said of the run defense at the end of the season. “We’re going to take our time and make sure we do it correctly.”
It took Watt a couple years to get healthy and fully make the transition to playing defense, but the final product was remarkable.
He put up 15.5 tackles for loss, including 11.5 sacks, had an interception, four passes defensed and two forced fumbles to earn first-team all-Big Ten honors last season. He capped his college career with six sacks in his final five games and had an impressive week of Senior Bowl practices.
“He’s an unbelievable worker, and he’s smart,” Badgers coach Paul Chryst said last season. “I think he loves the game. It’s been fun to see him grow and develop and last year have success and then build off of that.”