PITTSBURGH (AP) — T.J. Watt spent his childhood playing in considerable shadow of older brothers J.J. and Derek.
The neophyte linebacker still very much in the embryonic stage of his career will get his chance to step into his own with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The reigning AFC North champions selected Watt with the 30th overall pick in the draft on Thursday, won over by the 22-year-old’s energy and the raw materials they covet: namely speed, potential and an ability to get to the quarterback as often as possible.
Watt started just one season at Wisconsin but made it count, picking up 11 ½ sacks for the Badgers. Not bad for a player who arrived at Wisconsin in 2013 as a tight end and didn’t switch to defense until 2015. By last fall he was a linchpin on one team that went 11-3 and beat Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl.
The 6-foot-4, 252-pound Watt joins an outside linebacker group that includes James Harrison, who turns 39 next week, and 2015 first-round pick Bud Dupree.