2nd round (#36) – OLB TJ Watt, Wisconsin (6’4 | 252 | 4.69)
Edge rusher isn’t the Bears most pressing need, but it’s a bigger one than most people seem to think. The Bears did spend a top-ten pick last year on the position, selecting promising pass rusher Leonard Floyd ninth overall, but the Bears other two primary pass rushers, Willie Young and Pernell McPhee, are both getting old and there is no young depth behind them.
Despite his famous last name, Watt was a relative unknown before breaking out during his red-shirt sophomore season. In 14 games last year, Watt totaled 63 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, one interception, two forces fumbles, and four pass deflections.
The combination of Floyd and Watt would give the Bears two explosive young edge rushers to build their defense around. Watt has a potent combo of power, change-of-direction ability, non-stop motor, and surprising athleticism that could make him a double-digit sack threat early in his career. The addition of a second dangerous edge rusher would also keep teams from focusing their blocking schemes on Floyd.
The Bears have more pressing needs in the secondary, but adding Watt to an already decent pass rush could do more to improve the Bears secondary than most defensive backs they could draft on day two. Watt showed off surprising athleticism at the combine and of course has excellent bloodlines with his brother, J.J., one of the best defensive players in the league.
Watt has the size, athleticism, and work ethic to develop into a top flight edge rusher for the Bears. Even though there are more pressing needs, teams can never have enough pass rushers , and an improved pass rush could boost the whole secondary.
If the Bears have the chance to add an impact pass rusher across from Floyd, they should do it regardless of other position needs. Watt’s game tape, combine performance, and elite bloodlines show the potential to be just as good as Floyd if not better.