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DE Watt should improve Houston defense immediately

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Recent posts by Arthur Arkush

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Posted April 28, 2011 @ 11:10 p.m. ET
By Arthur Arkush

While Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt might not have been the sexiest pick at No. 11 for the Texans, he is a safe pick who immediately should strengthen the "D" under coordinator Wade Phillips.

The Texans have several needs as they transition to Phillips' new 3-4 front, including outside linebacker, cornerback and safety. But a defensive end who can wreak havoc opposite pass-rushing terror Mario Williams will look awfully nice.

And Watt is exactly that. He had scouts drooling after his tremendous performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in which he outperformed some running backs in the short shuttle and three-cone exercises.

Furthermore, he has drawn rave reviews for his relentlessness and incredible motor — traits that aren't exactly thrown around regularly when discussing Williams.

Make no mistake: the Texans will have to address the second and third levels of the defense later in the draft. Another rush outside linebacker is essential to what Phillips' defense is all about — pressuring the quarterback.

And improving the worst secondary in the league last season is not far behind. CB Kareem Jackson should benefit from new DB coach Vance Joseph's tutelage, but the club still needs another cornerback as well as a safety.

But Watt's versatility — he can move inside in pass-rushing situations and holds up extremely well at the point of attack — was too much to pass on for the Texans.

Not to mention the old adage: improved pass rush should equal improved secondary play.

GM Rick Smith has said since Phillips was hired that the new coordinator would have plenty of say in acquiring the right pieces for his defense.

"Obviously, he knows better than anybody what he wants," Smith said in the club's pre-draft press conference. "It's like the guy who is scratching the back of his head and his buddy says, 'Why are you scratching the back of your head for so long?' And he says, 'I'm scratching my head because I'm the only one who knows where it itches.' "

It's hard to argue with Phillips' track record. In each of his last five stops as a coordinator, that team has reached the postseason in the first year after missing out on the playoffs the year prior. With Houston being ready to compete for a Super Bowl right now on offense, Texans fans are relying on Phillips to reach into his bag of tricks once again in 2011.

They just have to hope he knows exactly where the Texans' itch is.

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