J.J. Watt, Von Miller Cream of the Defensive Crop of 2011 NFL Draft Class


Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans have the second best pass defense in the NFL, and it all starts up front.

J.J. Watt is down on his sack total from last season with 9.5 sacks on the year, but he’s still very capable of disrupting Peyton Manning and the rest of the Broncos offense. His 69 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries say so.

“Not many guys have that much ability with that high of a motor,” Manning said. “I think that’s kind of what separates him, and he’s certainly a handful.”

J.J. Watt (99) walks out of the tunnel before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The 6’5,” 289-pound defensive end was teammates with Broncos rookie running back Montee Ball at Wisconsin.

“I knew he’d be a great player just because of his mindset at Wisconsin,” Ball said. “He worked like he was on a mission every day and that kind of spread out throughout our team at Wisconsin while he was there.”

His work ethic is evident in his 59.5 inch box jump and in his production on the field.

Last season, Watt and Von Miller were neck and neck in the sack race with Watt finishing with 20.5 sacks and Miller finishing with 18.5 sacks.

Miller will get the chance to return to his homeland this week.

“Going to school at Texas A&M, going back to Houston there is a big Aggie following,” Miller said. “I didn’t get a chance to go to Dallas (because of his suspension), but I have a chance to go to Houston and play right there by the Aggies. There are a lot of Aggies that are Texans fans, but I think this game it will be split. A lot of guys will be cheering for me.”

Miller has 5 sacks in eight games, so like Watt, he’s down on his production. He’s still created some game changing plays though.

Watt and Miller were both taken in the first round of the 2011 draft, and both are proving their weight in gold on the field.

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