In the midst of the NFL offseason, cover32 will debut a series of new segments to hype up NFL fans for the start of the 2017 season.
The NFL Doppelgänger series is where each cover32 writer breaks down an NFL player’s closest comparison outside the world of football. So far, we have discussed the respective doppelgängers of Tom Brady, Tyreek Hill, Bill Belichick, David Johnson and Ben Roethlisberger.
J.J. Watt is an athletic freak. He’s a monster – an ass-kicking, take-no-prisoners player who will inflict pain on whomever stands in his way.
For fans of the UFC and/or WWE, this description also fits another person: Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar could quite possibly be the biggest physical anomaly to ever step foot into the realm of combat sports. He started his career high school, when he finished third in state in amateur wrestling. He graduated and attended Bismarck State College, where he finished as the National Junior College Athletic Association heavyweight champion.
After making a name for himself on a smaller scale, Lesnar transferred to Minnesota, where he became the NCAA Division I wrestling champion in his senior year. At the end of his collegiate wrestling career, he was a two-time NJCAA All-American, a two-time NCAA All-American, an NJCAA and an NCAA heavyweight champion, as well as a two-time Big Ten conference champion. He ended up with a final record of 106-5.
After he graduated from college, Lesnar was signed to the WWE. After spending a little under two years in their developmental league, he debuted on the main roster in 2002. He made an impact immediately, beating some of the biggest names in the business. Legends like The Rock, Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker all fell victim to Lesnar. Dubbed the “Next Big Thing”, he became the WWE champion after just 126 days in the company.
Lesnar ended up defeated Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania XIX. By doing so, he claimed his second world title in just under a year. He would go on to win another world title and dominate more of WWE’s top talent. However, he left in 2004 following a loss in WrestleMania XX to Goldberg.
From there, he tried to make it in the NFL as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. When that fell flat, he returned to wrestling in Japan before becoming a mixed martial artist. After just over two years in the sport (and only one fight), Lesnar was signed by the UFC. Although he lost his first bout against former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, he made an immediate impact.
He went on to win his next four fights. On November 15, 2008, Lesnar defeated the legendary Randy Couture to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. He would go on to hold the belt for nearly two years until dropping it to Cain Velasquez in October of 2010. During this reign, he also defeated Shane Carwin and Mir, to whom he had succumbed in his first UFC bout. He had one more fight in the UFC before leaving the sport.
Lesnar returned to the WWE in April of 2012, attacking John Cena in his first night back. He has accomplished much since his return. He has added another WWE Championship run to his résumé, and is currently the reigning Universal Champion. Lesnar also broke the fabled 21-year WrestleMania undefeated streak of The Undertaker. He returned to the UFC for one night only, defeating Mark Hunt, though the result was changed to a no contest due to his failing a drug test.
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J.J. Watt, like Lesnar, started off by dominating in high school. He was a first-team All-State player, and won the Woodland Conference Player of the Year Award in his senior year. He got a scholarship from Central Michigan University, where he played tight end. However, he, like Lesnar, moved to a bigger college in hopes of making a splash. Watt gave up his scholarship and transferred to Wisconsin to play as a walk on.
He redshirted in 2008, but played in 13 games the following year. He ended up with 44 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. Watt topped that performance in 2010 with a 62-tackle, 21-tackle-for-a-loss, seven-sack season. He won the Ronnie Lott Award, and was named a first-team All-Big Ten and All-American.
The Houston Texans selected Watt with the 11th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He started in all 16 games in his rookie season and finished with 56 tackles and 5.5 sacks. It wasn’t until his second year, though, that he really broke out. He led the NFL in sacks with a whopping 20.5, and was named Defensive Player of the Year.
Since he entered the NFL, Watt has become one of the most productive players in the league. He has started in all 83 of the games he has been active for. As of this writing, he has amassed 379 total tackles, 76 sacks and 15 forced fumbles. He even has a pick-six and three receiving touchdowns to his name. He is a four-time Pro Bowler, a four-time first-team All-Pro, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and has led the league in sacks twice.
Both Watt and Lesnar are very productive in their respective fields, it’s their athleticism that stands out the most. Kent Lee Platte, the creator of the Relative Athletic Scores algorithm, recently posted Watt’s RAS score on Twitter:
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) June 16, 2017
Luckily for us, Lesnar also measured for the NFL, so Platte has an RAS score for him, as well.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 6, 2017
As you can see, both Lesnar and Watt are incredible athletes.
With these things to back the claim up, it is clear that J.J. Watt is the Brock Lesnar of the NFL.
– Jacob Infante is a National Editor for cover32. He can be followed on Twitter @jacobinfante24.