JJ Watt, the defensive end of the University of Wisconsin, is the newest member of the Houston Texans after he was selected with the 11th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Right off the bat, I am not a fan of this pick for a variety of reasons.
It’s not that it’s a terrible pick. It’s just that there were so many people on the board that I feel would be better fits, one of which plays Watt’s position, in Cameron Jordan. The other players I like more would have been Prince Amukamara and Robert Quinn, Quinn being my favorite followed very closely by Jordan.
Having said all of that, Watt is a great addition to the Texans. Jordan was widely viewed as the better pass rushing five-technique in the draft, and Watt as the better anchor on the edge. Wade Phillips might feel differently though, and he knows a thing or two about producing more pressure as a defensive coordinator.
What is interesting is what this pick says about how the Texans feel about things going forward in both the short and long term.
In the short term, who is going to get picked in Rounds 2 or 3 at outside linebacker? Make no mistake, the Texans need one desperately, and if you leave Quinn on the board, you better have a great alternative in the next few rounds.
In the long term, I would say this casts serious doubts on either Antonio Smith’s place in Wade’s defense this year, or either Smith or Mario Williams’ long term future as Texans.
Smith, although having played in a 3-4 in Arizona, has been a little bit of a head case as a Texan, constantly being the recipient of penalties and even getting in an on-field fight with a teammate during a game last season.
Williams, while a great player, might not fit into the Texans’ long term plans as a five-technique. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he can be good, but he may not want to play in a three man front. His next contract will be huge, so the Texans now have a one year audition with the former first overall pick.
Watt is a great character guy who could very well be the best five-technique in the draft. If the Texans think that either Smith or Williams is not the future on the defensive line, Watt will have a year to soak up Wade’s defense before he takes over.
The real test for Wade, Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith will now be how you draft tomorrow in Rounds 2 and 3. They selected a player at a position that wasn’t a huge need. They better have a plan to cover the positions that are.