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Redskins draft countdown: Wisconsin edge rusher T.J. Watt

Redskins draft countdown: Wisconsin edge rusher T.J. Watt

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 23 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

I am not a scout but I will pass along my observations from watching some game tape of each of the players profiled here.

T.J. Watt

Outside linebacker

Height: 6-4
Weight: 252
40-yard dash: 4.69

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

Uses his length and heavy hands to take on blocks, locking out to dictate the point of attack. Edge acceleration to threaten the corner. Natural balance and active feet to continue his momentum through contact. Attacks and disrupts the rhythm of blockers with his violence, rarely allowing himself to be locked up. Off-the-chart football instincts with an instant reactor. Senses what is about to happen and understands his surroundings.

Dane Brugler,

How he fits the Redskins: The younger brother of three-time NFL defensive player of the year J.J. Watt told that he has a pre-draft visit scheduled with the Redskins. While a draft visit doesn’t necessarily indicate great interest in a player—each team can bring in as many as 30 players and the Redskins have only 10 picks—it does mean that the team has seen something in the player that they want to explore further.

The Redskins have four outside linebackers who have double-digit sack potential on the roster but question marks surround all but the steady Ryan Kerrigan. Trent Murphy is entering the last year of his rookie contract. Preston Smith has shown flashes of dominance surrounded by long stretches of near invisibility. Junior Galette has missed the last two years due to injuries and he is on a one-year deal.

Since you can’t have too many good pass rushers the Redskins are looking at more of them in the draft. Watt was a playmaker at Wisconsin, leading the Badgers with 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss.

The arrow could be pointing up on Watt. He entered college as a tight end but he was moved to outside linebacker in 2015. A knee injury kept him out that year but he burst onto the scene as the starter last year. He is a meticulous worker who plays with a high motor. He could be headed straight up.

Film review (2016 unless indicated): vs. Ohio State, vs. Minnesota

He switches from one side of the line to the other, usually on the edge but occasionally a few steps off the line.  

On a third and goal against Ohio State he showed his aggressiveness and recognition. He stormed in from the left edge and the pulling guard who was supposed to keep him from blowing up the play never had a chance to get him. QB J.T. Barrett tried a play action fake but Watt slammed into the running back right after the fake, allowing another player to come in a tackle Barrett for a loss.

Watt was not asked to do much in pass coverage. He usually just dropped into the flat in zone coverage.

You can see his high motor on display frequently as he chases down plays from the back side and keeps chasing the ball.

Watt can get pass pressure based on his hustle and quickness. But if he’s in a situation where he needs to overpower a blocker he’s in trouble. He might have to bulk up from his current weight of 252.

In the fourth quarter of a tight game against Minnesota he had a sack and three pressures that led to three Badger interceptions.

Potential issues:

As noted, Watt has just the one season of experience playing outside linebacker. While that leaves room to grow and improve, it also leaves room for the possibility that his strong performance last year was that of a one-year wonder.

In Brugler’s analysis on CBS Sports, he said that Watt “needs to mature his pass rush arsenal.” In the two games I watched he didn’t have enough moves to be considered “an arsenal”. It goes back to his lack of experience and it remains to be seen how much he can develop.

And, again, his size makes him kind of a tweener. He should be able to pack some more pounds onto his 6-4 frame and maintain his hustle.

Bottom line:

Watt seems to be a tweener in more ways than one. He would be a reach with the Redskins’ pick at No. 17 but he could well be gone when their second-round picks rolls around. Should the Redskins look to add some extra picks by trading back to a spot later in the first, somewhere in the late 20’s perhaps, they could find Watt to be a good value.

In his own words:

Watt on his potential:

"I’m only scratching the surface. I've only played defense for 18 or 20 months. If I can do all the things I did this last year what can I do when I'm under the tutelage of an NFL coach? Obviously lack of film lack of experience point that's come across I think it's not a problem with my work ethic and my bloodlines and stuff like that."

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 24, 33 days before the NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

Free agency update: What's next for the Redskins on the D-line? The Redskins have been casting out lines for defensive linemen since before free agency officially started but they haven’t been able to reel one in. Part of the issue might be that they know that Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne are likely to be available in the draft. They have to balance spending big on a lineman vs. being able to get one pretty cheap for the next five years.

Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility—Speaking of the D-line, the team negotiated the removal of a salary guarantee for one player to give themselves more flexibility when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 in September. See the post for details.

Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract—In the words of Joe Biden, this is a big f-----g deal. It showed that the Redskins aren’t afraid to pay a quarterback big money if they think it’s the right guy. It should be noted that whether or not they chose the right guy is something that remains to be seen. Although the post shows that it’s plausible for the Redskins to terminate the deal after three years, I anticipate Smith playing out at least four if not all five years of the contract.

Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign Scandrick—Orlando Scandrick has struggled with injuries the past few years and Redskins fans did not greet the news of his signing with great enthusiasm, to say the least. To point out the bright side, his contract is not pricey by NFL terms ($2.6 million cap hit this year, no guaranteed money beyond a $1 million signing bonus) and from what I have been able to gather it’s possible that change of scenery might give him a boost for a year or two.

Tweet of the week

Well before free agency started, I wrote that the Redskins’ top priorities in free agency should be to get extensions done for Smith, Brandon Scherff, and Jamison Crowder. They should have about $15 million to work with after a few more free agent signings and that would be plenty to get all of those extensions done. And if they do score a big free agent signing, it would be worth it to restructure the contract of someone like Ryan Kerrigan to get them done.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 23
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 124
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 169

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy.