NFL rookie minicamps are hardly a barometer for future success. Players are learning the basics, such as the names of coaches, where to find the locker and how to execute a play call.
But a few NFL-transferrable traits should stand out. And one thing -- OK, two things -- usually on display with Pittsburgh Steelers first-round pick T.J. Watt: His hands.
A highlight video from the Steelers' Twitter feed shows Watt violently smacking a tackling dummy. Yes, it's a quick clip, but it brings home what the Steelers liked about Watt during the pre-draft process -- his ability to win with his upper-body.
In late April, both coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert praised Watt's hand usage as advanced for a player who started one full season at outside linebacker at Wisconsin.
"He beats people with is upper body just as much as his lower body, and usually you don’t see that type of hand usage and that type of know-how in a one-year player," Colbert said.
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said Watt showcased his hands early in his collegiate career. Despite Watt's position change from tight end and a knee injury that cost him the 2014 season, Chryst quickly noticed Watt the pass-rusher could beat tackles in one-on-one settings with several different hand maneuvers.
"He had some natural stuff to him where you knew he would be good," said Chryst of Watt, who finished last year with 15.5 tackles for loss. "We felt pretty good about his (first) fall camp as a pass-rusher. He will work, and he's smart enough to know how to get better, smart enough to listen to caching and watch what other great pros do. He'll put the time in."