INDIANAPOLIS — If anyone can get a grip on his rising draft stock, it’s former Wisconsin Badgers linebacker T.J. Watt.
The junior outside linebacker is officially toting around the largest set of hands of any defender at the 2017 NFL Combine: 11 inches.
Among the more than 300 players who have been officially measured by the league, only two players — Toledo tight end Michael Roberts (11 1/2 inches) and Pitt tackle Adam Bisnowaty (11 3/8 inches) logged bigger numbers in downtown Indianapolis this weekend.
The reported combine record for largest hands is 11 3/4 inches, set by Boston College tackle Gosder Cherilus in 2008 and tied by Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner last year.
Watt’s older brother, former Badger and current Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, measured 11 1/8 in the winter of 2011.
“We competed all the time,” the younger Watt said Saturday during combine interviews at the Indiana Convention Center. “Growing up, I beat my brothers in many things, they all beat me in many things as well.
“You’re not always going to win, you’re not always going to lose in that house. Pickup basketball growing up, flag football, anything. Eating contest. It really doesn’t matter.”
Watt recorded 21 reps on the bench press, tied for the seventh-most among the linebackers who took part in the drill. Toss in that number with the hands, height and weight registered over the weekend, and the Wisconsin native has yet to hurt what looks to be a late first round/early second round draft projection:
#NFLCombine LB measurements:
Reuben Foster: 6-0, 229
Ben Boulware: 6-0, 238
T.J. Watt: 6-4 1/2, 252
Zach Cunningham: 6-3 1/2, 234
— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) March 3, 2017
Since 1999, only two linebackers at the NFL combine have officially recorded bigger mitts than the youngest Watt brother: Georgia’s Jordan Jenkins, with 11 1/4 inches in 2016, and Stanford’s Trent Murphy, with 11 1/8 in 2014.
While T.J. Watt hasn’t necessarily been lumped in with Jenkins since he declared for the draft, NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock raised eyebrows — and expectations — when he recently likened J.J.’s little brother to another popular Dairy State defender: Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews.
“It’s great,” Watt said of the comparisons. “Anytime you’re in the same sentence as a guy like that, it’s an awesome comparison. But I personally don’t shape my game off of anyone else.”
Matthews’ paws, if you’re curious, measured 9 1/2 inches in 2009.