RVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys expected J.J. Watt to be a very good NFL defensive lineman when they passed on him in the 2011 NFL draft.
The most dominant defensive force in the NFL? No, the Cowboys didn’t see that coming from Watt, who they’ll see Sunday when the Texans come to AT&T Stadium.
“We had him highly, highly evaluated,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan, adding that Watt was one of seven or eight players he personally interviewed extensively during pre-draft visits. “Certainly, we felt like we needed to address our offensive line, but let’s just put it like this. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s having the career that he’s having or a successful career.
“It surprises me, though, that he’s arguably the best player in the NFL. That’s surprising but understandable because of the passion that he has.”
Watt was former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s favorite player in the draft. However, the Cowboys had clearly identified offensive tackle as their biggest need and considered Tyron Smith to be a can’t-miss prospect with Hall of Fame potential.
The Cowboys have no complaints about taking Smith with the ninth overall pick, as evidenced by the recently signed extension that is the richest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history. The Texans are just as thrilled with using the 11th overall pick to select Watt, whose extension makes him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.