Rookie Watch: Watt suits Texans well
The Texans are going to be without QB Matt Schaub for the rest of the season. What effect will it have on what might just be the best team in the AFC? No one knows for sure.
What we do know about this team is that it is extremely strong on defense. And J.J. Watt is a major reason.
Watt has the perfect build for a 3-4 defensive end -- and he should continue to add a little more bulk and strength. He has great height and long arms, and he isn't short on strength or explosive movement skills.
Although he plays a little high at times, Watt can run well for a player his size. In the Texans' version of the 3-4, the ends are asked to be penetrators and disruptive upfield players rather than two-gap players who occupy space. That fits Watt very well, although he does use his hands well enough to handle the latter chore as well. Watt is a better player right now versus the run than the pass; he can handle a downhill run game right at him and is also able to make plays in pursuit from the backside.
He needs to build an array of pass-rush moves, but he is a difficult guy to throw around and does a nice job disrupting throwing lanes. Watt has been a great find for the Texans. And now, more than ever, they are going to need him.
|Ranking||Player, position (draft position)||Last week|
|Von Miller, Broncos LB (first round, No. 2)
Miller had another 1½ sacks in the Broncos' upset of Kansas City. But he was more dominant than that sack total indicates. Miller was the best player on the field in that game -- and is the best rookie in the league.
|Cam Newton, Panthers QB (first round, No. 1)
The blowout loss to Tennessee was a really rough game for Newton's Panthers. They were dominated from the beginning and came off their bye very flat. Have the Panthers crashed back to Earth? Has Newton? I would bet no, but this is a little concerning.
|Andy Dalton, Bengals QB (second round, No. 35)
Dalton's Bengals could not knock off the Steelers, but they did play Pittsburgh very tough and came back to make it a close game despite being down by 14 early. Dalton played a better game than his stats would indicate and I see this as a valuable stepping stone to a promising career.
|DeMarco Murray, Cowboys RB (third round, No. 71)
Murray keeps producing at an extremely high level. He runs extremely hard and with fantastic aggression, which complements Dallas' passing game very well. Tony Romo looks to be healthy again and this offense might be really hard to stop going forward. And Murray's role as a receiver has increased the last two weeks.
|A.J. Green, Bengals WR (first round, No. 4)
Green had one catch -- a very nice touchdown catch -- against the Steelers in Week 10. But Green came down awkwardly on that reception and missed the majority of the game afterward.
|Julio Jones, Falcons WR (first round, No. 6)
Like Green, Jones was injured in his team's divisional loss in Week 10. And the Falcons' passing game suffered dramatically until the final drive in regulation while Jones was out of the lineup. This hamstring issue is a real concern.
|Denarius Moore, Raiders WR (fifth round, No. 148)
Think Moore is happy Carson Palmer came to Oakland? Moore was on this list early in the year -- and his talent is obvious. Despite how impressive as Green and Jones have been, Moore still has a chance to be the best wideout in this class.
|Tyron Smith, Cowboys OT (first round, No. 9)
Smith, clearly the best rookie offensive lineman this season, and company dominated the Bills from the outset in Week 10. An elite athlete for protection, Smith is also quickly developing into a premier run blocker. He might just be the best right tackle in the league.
|Aldon Smith, 49ers LB (first round, No. 7)
The Niners got a huge win over the Giants, but Smith was quiet for the second week in a row. With as strong as his rookie counterparts are on this list, Smith just had to drop.
|Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins LB (first round, No. 16)
His team is hapless, but Kerrigan again made a significant impact, totaling two sacks and forcing two fumbles. His stock is back on the rise -- although the Redskins' couldn't be lower.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
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