T.J. and J.J. Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers – LB/Houston Texans – DL
These guys are listed together here because they’re also listed together atop the NFL’s sack leaderboards. Both Watt brothers currently have six sacks, which are tied for the most in the league with Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins.
T.J. edges his older brother out in the tackling category, but the veteran J.J. has four forced fumbles to his little brother’s one this season. Regardless of who does better than who, it’s clear that the Watt brothers are problematic for opposing quarterbacks.
J.J.’s path to NFL is well-documented. He came to Wisconsin as a walk-on transfer and earned a scholarship with play that would eventually find him being taken 11th overall by the Houston Texans. He wasn’t always a monster, but he quickly became one in Madison.
T.J.’s path also had a strange start, though he began at Wisconsin. He redshirted in 2013 and missed 2014 due to injuries. Prior to 2015, he changed positions from tight end to linebacker. In 2016, he became an All-American and a first-round draft pick.
These are just two more examples of Wisconsin players overcoming difficult situations and seeing themselves become stars. The only thing that separates the Watt brothers from most other Badger success stories is they were able to build themselves up before the draft. The next couple of players on this list weren’t first round picks, though they’re now playing like it.