The Steelers defensive line cuts will be the toughest on the team. Indeed, there are eight NFL-caliber defensive linemen, but likely only seven spots. That means one player will get the axe and likely end up on another team, but the question always ends up being, well, who? Armon Watts was a popular name to be the last name cut, but after Thursday’s game, most people saying that would need to rethink it.
Watts flashed everything that made him an intriguing add in the first place. First, the explosiveness jumps off the screen. Outside of DeMarvin Leal, no one else in that rotation has the quickness off their first step that Watts brings. Second, Watts showcases heavy hands to stun the interior offensive linemen he faces with his bull rush. Combining those two things together, Watts’ ability to convert speed-to-power makes him a significant threat in the pass rush part of his game. No one else in that rotation has the type of pass-rush polish he currently brings.
The depth defensive line is an excellent rotation of players with different strengths, yet most do not have the pass rush juice or upside Watts brings. That is the truth. He is a little wild and can be up and down, but Watts has an above-the-line burst on his first step and an array of pass-rush moves that work off his above-average pad level throughout his play.
Indeed, there will be a hard decision to be made by the Steelers, and they will lose an NFL-caliber player. Yet, the more he plays, the less I believe it will be Watts who continues to prove he has a unique trait, his pass rush ability, that should keep him on the final roster. On Thursday, Watts nearly registered a sack and had at least three other pressures on the second rewatch.
Watts even has a fastball move that he goes to often. It is his double-swipe move. That move is something that Watts is consistently comfortable using to work off his bull rush, and it works for him at a high success rate. Despite the inconsistency in his game, there is reason to take a little risk for the Steelers to make for that pass rush upside. Watts flashes it often enough to think that it will show up in NFL games, and he has proven that he can do it in NFL games. In other words, Watts has done enough to check those boxes and make the final roster.