MADISON - And then there were three.
Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt joined his brothers, J.J. and Derek, in the National Football League Thursday night in Philadelphia.
Watt, who blossomed into a playmaking outside linebacker in his first season as a starter, was taken in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 30 pick.
J.J. Watt was taken No. 11 overall by Houston in 2011. Derek Watt was taken in the sixth round, No. 198 overall, by San Diego last year.
Green Bay had the opportunity to select Watt with the No. 29 pick but traded out of the first round with Cleveland.
The Packers have the first pick of the second round on Friday.
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Watt, 6-foot-4 ½ and 252 pounds started out at tight end at UW. But after suffering two knee injuries, he moved to outside linebacker in 2015.
After a quiet first season on defense, Watt emerged as play-maker in 2016. He led UW in sacks (11 ½) and tackles for loss (15 ½) and finished third in tackles (63) and was a first-team All-Big Ten pick.
UW coach Paul Chryst reportedly told the Steelers late last year T.J. Watt would be worth a first-round pick.
“It was really a remarkable one-year production,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert told reporters late Thursday. “We don’t think he’s a complete product at this point but we’re excited. This kid is a solid football player and really only scratching the surface as a defensive player.”
Watt was the sixth Big Ten player selected and the first of two UW players taken in the first round.
Offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk was selected by the New Orleans Saints at No. 32, the final pick of the first round.
The last time two UW players were selected in the first round was 2011. Offensive tackle Gabe Carimi joined J.J. Watt at No. 29 overall to Chicago.
“There is a pretty rich tradition of offensive lineman coming out of Wisconsin," Ramczyk said during a conference call with reporters. "There are some greats and Wisconsin is known for a hard-working football team and that’s what we are and, obviously I have some big shoes to fill and to continue that tradition is a pretty cool thing that I’m looking forward to working on.”
NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks gave the Steelers a B+ for snagging Watt.
"This is a position of need for the Pittsburgh Steelers," Brooks said during the telecast. "They desperately needed outside guys that could play.
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"You want a versatile player, a guy who has proven he can get to the quarterback...Made the conversion nicely from tight end to outside linebacker.
"You see his versatility, being able to move inside and outside during his time at Wisconsin.
"The Steelers need someone who can be a difference-maker off the edge. Maybe T.J. Watt is able to do that.”
The first offensive tackle taken Thursday was Garrett Bolles of Utah, who went No. 20 to Denver.
"He is the most athletic of all the offensive linemen," Mayock said.
Stanford coach David Shaw, speaking on the NFL Network, wasn't surprised to see Bolles taken before any of the other tackles.
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“The job at offensive tackle in the NFL is to block freaks,” Shaw said during the NFL Network’s telecast. “It is your job to keep you quarterback clean and this guy is a freak athlete. He is long. He is athletic.
“He is fast. He is explosive. And he is nasty.”
Ramczyk, 6 feet 5 ½ inches and 309 pounds, eschewed a scholarship offer from Pittsburgh as a senior at Stevens Point High School.
He chose instead to stay close to home and briefly attended Division II Winona State. He never played football there, however, and attended Madison Area Technical College for one semester and then Mid-State Technical College in Stevens Point for a semester.
That year away from the field pondering a career as a welder made Ramczyk realize he missed football.
He played two seasons at Division III UW-Stevens Point, transferred to UW and sat out the 2015 season and then proved to be one of the best left tackles in the country in 2016.
"It’s been an incredible experience," Ramczyk told the NFL Network before the draft. "It’s been a ton of fun. I enjoyed my time at both Stevens Point and Wisconsin."
His selection was praised by Mayock and Shaw.
“Zach Strief their right tackle is 34 years old,” Mayock said, referring to the Saints' current No. 1 right tackle. “So he could step in (from) Day 1, play right tackle.
"He is a technician, even though he is only a one-year starter at Wisconsin. He faced big-time opposition.
“So at the end of the day, he is a Day 1 starter on the right side…and Drew Brees is a happy guy."
Shaw, who was impressed by Ramczyk's performance in UW's loss to Michigan, added: "This kid’s going to play for a long time."
Ramczyk told reporters he has never played right tackle at any level.
"I think I would be able to flip over real easily," he said. "I think obviously it’s something I have to work at to change some things, but I’m excited to play that position if that’s where the coach wants me, if that’s what helps the team.”