But, But, But…T.J. Watt?

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 5.12.29 PMThe post title is not because I feel this way. I think I made my feelings clear when he was my Round 1 pick in Momma’s Mock Draft. But not everyone likes the pick as much as I do, and those who don’t have plenty to say about it.

I suppose part of the point of being a sports fan is to be passionate about your team. But I’ve always wondered if having a passion for something automatically makes you stupid. One would certainly get that impression from some of the things you hear on sports radio (mostly, although, alas, not exclusively from the fans) and particularly in the comment sections.

Take this comment, which appeared in the comments to Ed Bouchette’s Steelers Chat transcript last Tuesday:

(In regards to the pick of Joshua Dobbs:)

So Dobbs had better stats than Prescott, drafted at the exact same pick in the draft, and yinzers want to dump him already. Nice. Don’t ever call another teams fans stupid or ignorant, look in a mirror.

Well said! Here was one of the replies:

In what was described as the worst QB class in years he was rated between the 6th -9th best QB by pretty much everyone. I just really didn’t see the need. And the situation in Dallas was way different than here.

Fortunately there are always some people of sense, and one of them answered this guy:

Actually, ESPN’s Todd McShay had Dobbs rated as #63 on his entire board (a late 2nd rounder), and the situation in Dallas was not “way different” – an aging veteran QB, very good O-line, great RB, one great WR. In fact, it was nearly identical.

Don’t you just hate it when people answer your impassioned rhetoric with actual facts? But my favorite comment, this time on the 6th round pick of Colin Holba, was by a guy who seems to have a reputation among the PG commenters:

first off tomlin is stoopid for wasting a 6th on a long snapper..and he is even stoopider for wasting a roster spot on a guy who can do nothing but snap a ball…they should have a long snapper that can snap the ball as well as play another position when hes not snapping the ball….it a waste of a roster spot for sure…just plain dumb…

I pointed out to this grammatically-challenged gentleman that apparently the other 31 NFL teams are just as “stoopid” because they all carry a dedicated long snapper.

As far as I’m concerned, you can argue whether the Steelers should have drafted a long snapper, although Kevin Colbert’s reply to the reporters who did just that made a great deal of sense, but to question carrying a long snapper at all in 2017 seems rather ludicrous. I liked this reply to my comment:

Absolutely correct! All NFL teams realize that a bad snap leading to a missed FG or PAT, or even worse a blocked or aborted punt, can be the pivotal play in a game. By [original commenter’s] logic, we shouldn’t be wasting roster spots on kickers and punters, we should just have Ben do the punting and AB do the kicking. Then we could carry some more third-string linebackers.

But what does any of this have to do with T.J. Watt? Quite a bit, as it turns out, because one of the best-ever calls to a sports radio show (at least that I’ve ever heard) concerned T.J. The caller said he liked T.J. Watt, just not in the first round, that the Steelers should have gotten him in the second round. (Makes perfect sense, as long as you can get all the other teams to pinky-promise that they won’t take him in the meantime.) Then came the laugh-out-loud moment.

The caller then said he wasn’t sure how successful Watt would be, because he has a small butt. He went on to say (while the hosts, stunned, hung on his every word, waiting for an explanation) that if you look at good athletes they all have big butts.

Here at Going Deep we don’t just sit around waiting for the answer to such questions to come to us. So this post isn’t exactly about T.J. Watt per se. I wrote a post about him after he was drafted which you can read if you came here for footbally information. It is an exploration of the question of whether better football players really do have big butts.

The first problem when attempting to answer a question such is this is, what constitutes a “big butt” (or lack thereof?) So to start, I had a look at Monsieur Watt’s derriere, since presumably would establish the baseline for a paucity of gravitas.

It turns out it isn’t that easy to find pictures of guy’s back views. And when you start looking the search quickly degenerates into semi-naked pictures of Von Miller, something any well-bred Steelers fan finds distasteful in the extreme. However, a look at some of Watt’s highlight reels showed him from the stern angle, if you will, for long enough to notice that he is indeed quite slender in all the visible portions of his uni.

Now that we’ve established that, we can see that the caller’s blanket statement that “good athletes have big butts” is problematic from the standpoint of a serious study. Because if he really means “good athletes,” regardless of the sport, his theory quickly falls apart. Even were we to confine ourselves to football of the American variety, some really good athletes such as defensive backs and wide receivers prefer to carry as little excess as possible to maximize their speed and shiftiness.

So I suppose to be fair we have to confine our study to outside linebackers. So who are the top ones who should be compared to young Mr. Watt? Of course, everyone will have a different idea of who the best outside linebackers are, so for the sake of brevity and ease I’m used the most updated ranking I could find, which is, as it happens, is the top five for 2017 Madden – Von Miller, Justin Houston, Khalil Mack, Pernell McPhee, and Dont’a Hightower.

Let’s check out some of these other guys to see watt they’ve got in the way of avoirdupois. Never fear, I’m not going to publish a bunch of pictures of the backsides of these guys, although in the case of Miller we could actually get pretty much the full monty, as it were. But this benefits no one, quite frankly. Here’s what my study revealed, from No. 5 (Hightower) on up to Miller.

I think it is fair to say that Hightower’s backside is, while not exactly prominent, a tad more developed than T.J.s. He is also 2″ shorter than TJ, and 30 pounds heavier. It’s a nice bit of serendipity that he was on this list, because the Steelers apparently worked rather hard to sign him, and would not have drafted Watt had they managed to do so. Or at least I think that’s safe to say.

Pernell McPhee plays for the Bears instead of the Ravens now, but he is still a bum. Er, has a bum. A pretty decent-sized one. So the caller would definitely have a point if you take McPhee to be your beau ideal. And oh, by the way, he is two inches shorter than Watt and 45 pounds heavier, if we assume his listed weight is correct. I’m guessing it isn’t – and as it is his height and weight sound more like a DE.

Next up is Khalil Mack. Mack is physically a better match for Watt than the others so far, perhaps because he’s younger – he’s still two inches shorter than Watt, but only weighs about 15 pounds more. And he has a much slimmer backside than the first two, McPhee in particular. It does seem to have a bit more definition, but I’m guessing that’s part of what you develop after two NFL seasons..

Justin Houston is also two inches shorter than Watt, so perhaps we should assume that the perfect size for an NFL OLB is 6’3″ (Watt is 6’5″.) Houston has about 25 pounds on Watt.

It makes sense that a guy coming straight from college who is well-conditioned (read “not fat”) is going to be lighter than his veteran NFL counterparts. After all, they have people to help them maximize their potential muscle-y-ness, if I may be allowed to coin a term.

The question is then whether Watt has the frame and body type to support additional muscle, and one would assume when looking at his brothers that he does. But J.J. (who is also 6’5″) was already carrying an additional 45 pounds when he declared for the draft, and their brother Derek is definitely shorter and heftier than either. Which you would expect, as he’s a fullback for the Rams. So there’s that.

Our last comparison is Von Miller, MVP of the Super Bowl last year. And yes, he also has a somewhat bigger butt than Watt, and is two inches shorter, although only about 15 pounds heavier.

I checked out one other guy, just out of curiosity, and he was better-endowed than any of these guys except perhaps McPhee. That would be Jarvis Jones. I’m not hating on Jarvis, just pointing out how silly almost all of the things said about guys right after they are drafted are. At least our anonymous caller isn’t getting paid to say this stuff.

T.J. might be Jarvis Jones II, or he might be better than J.J. when all is said and done. I’m guessing the truth is somewhere in the middle, although J.J. actually said his brother is farther along than he was when he was drafted.

This is why all of this “draft grading” taking place is just silly. If you still aren’t convinced, just remember that the Steelers’ 2008 draft, lauded to the skies at the time for the great value they got, is now considered their worst in modern times.

We’ve made it through the “silly season” of prospect evaluation and are into the possibly even sillier phase of deciding how well a guy is going to do before he’s even donned a practice jersey. So let’s all take some deep breaths and give these guys a chance. Who knows? T.J. may end up with the biggest butt of all.



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