PITTSBURGH — On April 27, 2019, Taco Charlton was waiting for his phone to ring. Inevitability, an 817 area code number would show up on his phone that night. Charlton was heading to Dallas to play for the Cowboys as he was picked with the 28th pick in that draft. On the same night, T.J. Watt was waiting for his call to come through on his phone. However, it was a 412 area code number. Watt was going to become a Pittsburgh Steeler, and picked only two spots after Charlton.
Since then, both of them have taken vastly different directions. Charlton only lasted two full seasons in Dallas before they cut ties. Since then, he has gone to Miami and Kansas City. Meanwhile, Watt has quickly grown into one of the league’s best pass rushers, and the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. As such, the comparison between the two was natural. The Cowboys play a different system, but passed on the better player who became a superstar.
Now, it has all come around. Watt is a superstar, but Charlton is still in the league. This year, he has found his way to the Steelers, and is now their main rotational pass rusher after the Melvin Ingram trade. While those comparisons could easily weigh on Charlton, he does not dwell on them at all.
“It’s been fun working with T.J.,” Charlton said. “We still help each other out. Whether it’s something we see on film or on the field. We tell each other what we could do differently. We pick each other’s brains on a lot of things. You know, he’s a great player. It’s always nice to line up next to a great player. He does a great job at what he does. It’s fun to play with him.”
While the aspect of playing with a player like Watt is enticing for anyone, it is easy to see why Charlton could be conflicted about it. However, he says there is nothing there, and he never compares himself to Watt.
“Not really,” Charlton said when asked if he compared himself to Watt. “We play different positions and styles. I’m a lot bigger. We move our bodies and use them a lot differently. We weren’t even in the same atmosphere. I went to a 4-3 defense, he came to a 3-4. There are a lot of things different in our story arcs.”
While the fact is thrown out there often, it seems it has no meaning to Charlton. Instead, he is moving head first forward working with Watt in an effort to stick in Pittsburgh.