The Dallas Cowboys host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
These two franchises have a storied history of players and championships.
But perhaps no one knew how close Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt came to being a Cowboy during the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Cowboys had the 28th overall pick and were looking for a pass rusher.
Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones told 105.3 The Fan this week that the Cowboys had narrowed the first-round pick selections to Taco Charlton and T.J. Watt.
Hindsight is 20/20.
While the Cowboys ultimately chose Charlton, Jones admits Watt should have been the team’s choice.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on @1053thefan said the hardest part of not drafting edge rusher T.J. Watt in 2017 is that he was in “serious contention” to be their 1st round pick. “I wish we would’ve done that.” Jones pointed out how Watt would be a great fit in their current defense
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) November 6, 2020
It came down to who the Cowboys believed could adapt to their defense more easily.
In the mind of the Cowboys brain trust, Taco Charlton fit better into the 4-3 scheme the team was running at the time.
T.J. Watt had already switched from being a tight end, and the Cowboys believed he would be better suited to a 3-4 scheme.
And so draft day came, and Mike Tomlin was the one calling T.J. Watt while the Cowboys were on the clock for their 28th pick.
The Steelers drafted Watt with their 30th pick.
Spoke to #Steelers OLB @_TJWatt on playing vs #Cowboys. He shared on draft night 2017, after a pre-draft visit to Dallas, he took a call with Cowboys on clock. Family member put a Cowboys cap on Watt’s head, but call was from Mike Tomlin, not Dallas. Steelers took him at 30.
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) November 6, 2020
The Cowboys knew Watt would have a great future.
Cowboys director of college and pro personnel, Will McClay, said.
“[Watt] is going to be a very good NFL player. But when you put all those things together and you’re making a first round pick, you want to go for the guy that has done it, that you think has the potential and the upside to play the way that you want to play.”
Watt has been great for the Steelers.
So far in 2020, he has 20 solo tackles in 7 games.
This adds to the 125 solo tackles he’s had in his first three years in the league for a career total of 145.
He’s accomplished so much already; the only thing that eludes him is a Pick 6.
For those wondering whatever happened to Taco Charlton, he played the 2017 and 2018 seasons for the Cowboys.
He had 28 solo tackles during those two years.
In 2019, he played for the Miami Dolphins, and in 2020, he is playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.
He has 46 career solo tackles.
Of course, T.J. Watt is just one of the three Watt brothers playing in the NFL.
J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans is perhaps the most well-known.
Whereas, Derek Watt is the lone Watt brother to play on the offensive side of the ball.
Derek played for the Chargers prior to joining his brother T.J. on the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020.
Big brother J.J. is happy his brothers have the opportunity to play for the same team.
“It’s crazy, they were going through free agency, he had heard that the Steelers may be a possibility and the whole time we were thinking it would be incredible if they got a chance to play together and now they get a chance. They’re going to live in the same neighborhood, it’s a dream come true for them.”
“Steelers fans have been in my Twitter mentions, they’ve been on my Instagram page, they’ve been creating these mockups, like, ‘come join us, come join us!’ I’m like, I don’t know if you understand how this works, it’s not like you just pick up and choose where you want to go.”