The 2017 NFL Draft will be remembered as the draft in which the Green Bay Packers traded back out of the first round. Instead of drafting Wisconsin Badgers pass rusher TJ Watt, they took cornerback Kevin King with their first pick in the second round.
For years, Packers fans have bemoaned the fact that they could have had Watt. Of course, he is a native of Pewaukee, Wisconsin and is still very popular in the state. However, Watt does not share Packers’ fans regret… at all.
Former Wisconsin Badgers Pass Rusher TJ Watt Tells Ben Roethlisberger He is Glad the Green Bay Packers Did Not Draft Him
During an interview on the former quarterback’s podcast, Watt detailed why he was glad his hometown team decided not to draft him back in 2017:
“It would have been awesome to play there, don’t get me wrong.
“I tell people all the time I went to school in Wisconsin. I grew up in Wisconsin and then I went to Madison, which is only like 45 minutes away from where I grew up, and Green Bay would have been two hours away. It just would have been a lot.
“I needed to get out of the state. I think it was good for my development to kind of get away and get out of — I don’t want to say get out of the shadow of my brothers — but do my own thing for once.
”Going back to the college thing, it wasn’t always Wisconsin. I waited for the longest time. I wanted to blaze my own trail and go to Minnesota or somewhere else just to do my own thing, and then it was like, no, I really love Wisconsin, so I went there. But as far as the NFL, it was good for me to get away and kind of find myself.”
So as it turns out, Watt almost did not even go to Wisconsin because of his brother’s legacy there. Fortunately, he stayed and Wisconsin fans got to see him grow and dominate as a player.
Since being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Watt has tied the NFL single-season sack record of 22.5 and won a NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award.
It is also worth noting that, at the time, the Packers did not have a need at edge rusher. They had a huge need at cornerback, however. That is why Josh Jackson and King were selected.