Plenty of speculation exists about the Jets potentially taking a defensive lineman with the 30th pick in the NFL Draft. If a certain defensive end from Wisconsin falls, it is possible Mike Tannenbaum might get on the phone to try and move up. That defensive end is J.J. Watt, who began his college career as a tight end in the MAC at Central Michigan. Three years later, he was Second Team All America at end.
Watt has the prototypical size to play end in the 3-4. He is 6'6" and over 290 pounds. That is the right size. Ends in a 3-4 base should be big since they frequently have to take on a pair of linemen. Watt's long 35 inch wingspan is also a good quality since playing against those double teams makes long arms essential to disengage.
Taking a 3-4 end in the first round generally does not excite me. With a few exceptions, these guys are not difference makers. They do the dirty work. I think Watt has the potential to be fantastic at the position, though.
The biggest issue with Watt is technical. New to the defensive line, he sometimes does not get low enough and loses leverage. That can be fixed with coaching.
There are a lot of other areas where he shows a great deal of potential. He is strong, controlling the point of attack well in the run game and displaying a very good bull rush to get a push as a pass rusher. He also has great instincts, a nonstop motor, and a nose for the football. He uses a good punch and uses his hands to disengage from blocks. Some disagree, but I think he is very nimble, which one would expect from a tight end, and displays good footwork to take good routes to the ball.
I think Watt is a great prospect. If the Jets trade up, I think it should be for a guy like him. Odds are that he will not make it into the 20's. If he does, the Jets should be tempted. I have heard some call him a Mike Devito capable of pass rushing. I agree. A big defensive end will probably not transform the pass rush. That would require adding a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid. Adding a guy with the strength and athleticism to collapse the pocket and split a double would help, though.