Houston Texans Positional Breakdown: Defensive Line
Dec 28, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) reacts during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
J.J. Watt Defensive End, 6’5″ 290 Pounds, 26 Years Old
The three-man defensive front needs to have guys willing to take on blockers and fearlessly attack the run. Occasionally a team finds a guy who fits the size requirements and run stuffing ability needed for the job that also happens to have some ability to rush the passer. Then, there is J.J. Watt, who can do all of the above while being perhaps the best pass rusher in the entire NFL as he has already racked up 57 sacks in only four seasons.
Some Background Info;
With the 11th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Texans grabbed Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt and plugged him in as the starter on the line immediately. He had a good rookie season, finishing with 56 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
That was the last time Watt finished with less than ten sacks in a season, finishing with 20.5, 10.5 and 20.5 again in the three following years. He has earned several honors in his short career, including winning the defensive player of the year award in both 2012 and 2014.
His performances those two seasons also give him the distinction of being the only player to ever record more than 20 sacks in a season twice in his career. Perhaps what’s most scary about Watt is his age. At only 26-years old, there is still time for him to improve on what has already been a stellar career.
What To Expect This Year;
Watt will continue to be the focal point of this defense and will be one of the first defensive lineman to receive a contract of at least $100 million that actually plays up to that level. After recording more than half of the teams sacks in 2014 I expect to see J.J. near the top of the NFL in sacks yet again in 2015.
While a third season of 20+ sacks is not out of the question, I don’t see him hitting that total again, despite adding talent around him to take on blockers. Instead, I believe he will wind up in the high teens for sacks, while continuing to knock passes down at a high rate.
And while we are focusing on defense, let’s be honest, Watt was the best red zone tight end for Houston last year, and will probably catch at least one more touchdown pass from within five yards.
Next: This Defensive End Is No Slouch