JJ has the size, strength, foot quickness and football intelligence to be an impact defensive player for the team that drafts him. He has a variety of moves to get himself free, get into the backfield and disrupt a running play or passing play. JJ can play in any style defense, inside or outside. He is a smart player and understands situational football. He shows leadership skills in his play on the field and makes the players around him better. JJ does a good job defending against the run at the college level. He can engage, shed blocks and make the tackle with the best of them. JJ loves to rush the passer and has a quick first step and burst off the line. He fights through double teams and triple teams to get pressure on the QB. If you try to block him on passing downs with a single block, JJ will make you pay and then he will make a play. JJ reminds me a lot of Chris Long (DE Rams) who was the #2 draft choice in the 2008 draft.
JJ has trouble changing directions, which will limit his ability to play as a pure pass rusher in a 4-3 defense. He has an excellent burst off the line of scrimmage and quick hands, but doesn't keep using those skills until he gets to the QB in the pocket. Don't get me wrong: the effort never stops, but his techniques do after his first initial move off the line of scrimmage. This has to do with a lack in confidence in his balance and change of direction skills. Right now, he does not shed blocks quickly enough to make the tackle in the hole on the running game for the next level. He also plays too high in 2 gap situations and will be moved off the line at the next level easily. These are techniques issues that with time, JJ will work through without a problem.
JJ will not get any better staying at the college level. He needs some time to work through the bad habit of just using athletic talent and strength to defeat his opponent. He has to learn to use all of his techniques until the whistle. Right now, he will burst off the line using his athletic abilities and techniques and once he gains the advantage, he follows through with his talent; however, he forgets to continue to use his hands and techniques. JJ is the type of player you have to draft high and then wait for his work ethic and techniques to click in with his athletic talents. Once that happens, in most cases, you get a Pro Bowl defensive end. I do think that 3-4 teams will rate JJ Higher than 4-3 teams because JJ is better rushing the passer from the inside than he is coming from the outside. JJ is athletic enough to rush from a stand up position and he can fall back in the short zones to defend against the pass. As long as JJ goes north and south, he gets wherever he wants to go on the field very quickly. When he changes direction is the area in which he needs to learn some new techniques to mask his lack of change of direction skills. JJ also has a lot to learn in defending against the run. He is just way too high and does not indentify were the ball is quickly enough to shed his block and make a play. Right now, he is trying to use just strength to defeat his opponent and this will not do at the next level. You need more than just effort and strength at the next level. I think JJ will do it and become a complete defensive lineman given the time to progress and some really good coaching. There is too much potential not to draft JJ at any point in this draft especially if your team uses a 3-4 defense. In a 3-4 defense, JJ could be something special. JJ Watts...he never stops.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart Feb/11