T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers Agree to Rookie Contract

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2017

Pittsburgh Steelers first round pick in the 2017 NFL football draft, T.J. Watt, a linebacker out of Wisconsin, speaks during a news conference Friday, April 28, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Wednesday they signed T.J. Watt to a four-year contract after the organization used the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft on the Wisconsin product.

"T.J. is a rock-solid young man who has a lot of upside," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement on the team's official site. "He doesn't have a lot of experience at the position, but at the same time we saw some things that were exciting to us. His hand usage in particular for a guy with his short resume at the position was exciting. His production speaks for itself."

By virtue of being the 30th selection, Watt will earn a little over $9.2 million as part of his rookie deal with a $4.8 million signing bonus, per Spotrac.

Watt enjoyed a breakout 2016 season with the Badgers. He racked up 63 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception across 14 games. It caused his stock to skyrocket, earning him a spot in the first round.

The 22-year-old Wisconsin native is a physical force with the ability to consistently win one-on-one battles at the point of attack. His wide-ranging skill set suggests he should become a three-down asset in the NFL.

He's not the dynamic edge-rushing asset his brother, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, has been en route to getting named NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times, though.

Watt told Mike Prisuta of the Steelers' official website he's hopeful reaching the NFL will allow him to carve out his own legacy after being known as the little brother for so long:

"Obviously, everybody knows me as J.J.'s younger brother, but people don't know the little things, the work ethic, the countless hours of film study. Doing all the little things, like getting the right amount of sleep, hydration, just treating myself like a professional athlete while I was still in college. I think I've learned so much from J.J. and been able to translate that to myself. I don't think people really know who I am at this point, just because I've been in such a big shadow. I can't wait to get to Pittsburgh and kind of become my own person."

It'll take time before he gets a chance to prove himself, however. James Harrison and Bud Dupree are the expected starters at outside linebacker for Pittsburgh, while Arthur Moats also figures to get his fair share of snaps in the rotation.

Watt could be limited to sporadic reserve time as a rookie as a result. The exception would be if Dupree and Moats struggle and the rookie tears it up during training camp and the preseason. More likely, he'll be eased into action before eventually taking over for the 39-year-old Harrison.

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