The distance between T.J. Watt's NFL accomplishments -- none -- and those of his older brother J.J. would have to be measured in light years. But as draft prospects, the pair can more sensibly appear in the same sentence, and for one NFL scout, little brother rates higher than the Houston Texans star who came before him.
That's a mouthful. Beyond the favorable comparison to Matthews, who has been to half a dozen Pro Bowls, J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the game when healthy. But keep in mind, a higher draft grade doesn't necessarily mean the scout believes T.J. Watt will eventually outplay his brother in the pros. It only means he graded T.J. higher this year than the grade he gave to J.J. when he was a draft prospect back in 2011.
J.J. Watt was the No. 11 overall pick in 2011. As for T.J., NFL.com analyst Charley Casserly projects him to be selected No. 22 overall by the Miami Dolphins. J.J. himself doesn't believe it's so far-fetched. He said earlier this week that he believes his younger brother is better than he was at the same stage. And let's not pretend that J.J. Watt was a finished product when he entered the pros.
"J.J. was good at Wisconsin, but he wasn't dominant," Zierlein said earlier this year. "His motor was relentless and you could see the talent, but it didn't really click for J.J. as far as how to use his strength and power until about halfway through his rookie year."
To be sure, comparisons between the brothers as NFL players will be unfair, and they don't even play the same position. The younger Watt is a pass-rushing linebacker, and J.J. is a defensive end at nearly 300 pounds. Pro expectations on T.J. shouldn't be dictated by his brother's success. But based purely on draft grades, they might be closer than you think.