J.J. Watt has made the Houston Texans look like geniuses throughout the past decade with the franchise since being selected in the first round out of Wisconsin back in 2011. Since then, Watt became the face of the franchise during the prime years of his career, and he did so by producing on and off the field.
Watt asked for and was granted his release for the Houston Texans on Friday, and now the conversation topic goes to where does J.J. Watt rank among the greatest first-round picks in franchise history?
Watt is one of 18 players to have the distinction of being a first-round pick for the Houston Texans, as he was the 11th overall selection out of Wisconsin, and since then the defensive end has made a very big name for himself in the NFL.
The most notable honors for Watt have to be his three Defensive Player of the Year awards won in 2012, 2014 and 2015, and in 2017 he was also the Walter Payton Man of the Year. There were also the accolades of being on the 2010s Pro Football Hall of Fame team, plus he was on the 2011 NFL All-Rookie Team, and he was voted onto the NFL Top 100 list eight times since 2013.
The former defensive end of the Texans also made five Pro Bowl teams, he was Player of the Month six times, he’s been a first-team All-Pro on five occasions and he’s also been named the NFL Player of the Week seven times during his tenure with the Texans.
There is also the fact that J.J. Watt led the NFL in sacks twice, and four times total he’s ranked in the Top 10 of that category. All in all, Watt had a great decade with the Houston Texans, but his 11th season in the league will be played elsewhere. Now the question this is asking is not if J.J. Watt is the greatest first-round pick in franchise history, but why is he the greatest first-round pick ever made by the Texans?
Here are five reasons why J.J. Watt is the best first-round pick ever made by the Texans.
5. J.J. Watt was better than any Texans defensive player before his arrival
Eleven times in franchise history, the Houston Texans have selected a defensive player in the first round of the NFL Draft, with the first time coming in 2004, the third draft in Texans history. That year the Texans made two first-round picks, both on defense, when they selected cornerback Dunta Robinson with the 10th overall pick, and Jason Babin, a defensive end with the 27th overall selection.
That was the start of a trend where the Texans selected defense in four consecutive drafts. After the ’04 draft, defensive tackle Travis Johnson was next in ’05 as the 16th overall pick. He was followed in ’06 by defensive end Mario Williams as the No. 1 overall pick that year. In ’07, it was back to the interior defensive line when Amobi Okoye was selected with the 10th overall pick.
No player on the Texans drafted before Watt was better than him, and here is why.
To compare the first five defensive players drafted to the franchise before Watt, they had a combined 23 seasons with the Texans, totaling 14 interceptions and zero touchdowns on those interceptions and 83 sacks.
J.J. Watt, on the other hand, finished his 10 years with the Texans with two interceptions, two touchdowns and 101 sacks, all in 128 games played in the regular season. Twice, Watt led the NFL in sacks, with 20.5 in 2012 and 17.5 in 2015.
Watt even had a span of three out of four seasons where injuries got the best of him, causing him to miss 32 games, so imagine if he played in those games what his career numbers would have been if not for those injuries.