Many of those who visit Washington, D.C., come as tourists, eager to take in the sights and all the storied history.
But not T.J. Watt. He’s there on business, readying instead for the next step in his path to the 2017 NFL Draft.
Watt is spending his first night in the nation’s capital studying outside linebacker coverages and assignments in his hotel room. The night before a job interview with the Washington Redskins, his second visit to a team’s facility, the linebacker-defensive end hybrid isn’t stressing.
“You just got to be relaxed,” Watt told NFL.com on Tuesday. “I’m just trying to be myself and don’t try to be anyone else.”
Trying to be T.J. Watt these days is a busy endeavor. Fresh off four workouts with teams in Wisconsin, Watt scheduled workouts with the Saints, Dolphins and 49ers this week and has locked down a flight to Mile High to visit with John Elway and the Broncos on April 18. Teams’ interest, most of it coming after a lull in workout requests, came as a welcome surprise to Watt.
“Through the whole first half of this whole thing, my schedule had been set and nothing had really changed. Then, to have coaches call in late and kind of pack the whole weekend and have multiple workouts back to back, some people would shy away from it,” Watt said. “But at the same time, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. If a coach is going to take the time to fly all the way up to Madison, Wisconsin, to see me work out, I’m going to do whatever I can to show him I can play ball for their club.”
The most memorable meeting of this draft process for Watt has been his “surreal” trip down to The Star in Frisco, where he met with Cowboys brass, including owner Jerry Jones owner, who made quite an exit from the meeting.
“Halfway through the conversation (with Jerry Jones), I had to pinch myself almost just to know the conversation was actually happening. It was kind of a surreal moment,” Watt said. “Then to see him fly away in his helicopter afterwards was also a really cool moment.”
Watt’s relishing the opportunity to get to know some of decision makers he’s followed for so long.
“Obviously, you hear about Jerry Jones and (defensive coordinator) Rod Marinelli,” Watt said, “and to finally sit down and talk with them and see how much they care about football and seeing them have a plan for if I were to be drafted to fit into the defense is pretty cool.”
Finding the perfect fit would be nice, but Watt is well aware that this isn’t the college recruiting trail and that, in the professional ranks, you don’t get to choose your destination; the fit finds you.
“It is really cool to go to these really different facilities and see what they have to offer. But it’s not like college where I get to pick,” Watt said. “So I’m just kind of checking out the facilities and seeing how they do things and I’ll just be extremely grateful if they pick me.”