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Steelers fans should realize T.J. Watt will never move to inside linebacker

Regardless of the Steelers’ hole at inside linebacker. T.J. Watt will be staying put at outside linebacker.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I know what you're going to say, I'm creating a straw-man argument.

Yeah, right, save it.

I've seen enough people suggest moving second-year player and 2017 rookie sensation T.J. Watt from his original professional position of outside linebacker to the new-for-him spot at inside linebacker to know my argument contains no straw and no men (other than Watt and a few others).

Unfortunately, the reason the notion of moving Watt inside has been a popular enough one over the past two months is due to the spinal injury sustained by Ryan Shazier in early December, an injury that not only derailed the rest of his 2017 season, but very possibly the rest of his NFL career.

The ironic part about people suggesting Watt switch positions—just like that—is they used to say the same thing about the guy they want him to replace: Ryan Shazier.

You remember the whole "He's too small to play linebacker, they should switch him to safety" suggestion people often made about Shazier during the first three-plus years of his career? That was because he was considered slight for the position he played, and missed his fair-share of games due to injury.

I always thought that suggestion was funny because, for one thing, safeties aren't wrapped in protective bubble.

Furthermore, being a few extra yards away from the line of scrimmage doesn't make football that much safer--unless, of course, you're using old-time logic similar to when they used to have non-smoking sections five feet from smoking sections at restaurants.

Thirdly, Shazier was pretty darned good when he wasn't missing games with those bumps and bruises many attributed to his slight build.

And fourth (as if I need a fourth reason), teams don't just up and move players from one position to another—at least not when they're recent first-round picks and proving their worth.

I mean, no coach or general manager is just going to say—here in this era of social media, where coaches and general managers are scrutinized if they let the 55 cent coupon on their laundry detergent expire—"Bleep it! Let's move that successful first-round pick to a totally new position and see what happens!"

Also, most agents—at least the ones who don't want to have to make business cards that read: "My clients almost never switch positions!"—would fight tooth and nail against allowing it to happen, especially for a client that, again, is a successful player with a high draft pedigree.

And let's not forget about the high-pedigreed player and how much he'd almost surely object to the move.

Back to Watt and his rookie season of 2017, one that was so good—15 starts, seven sacks, 52 tackles, seven passes defensed and one interception—you don't get to have an Internet hissy fit over a Steelers first-round pick until at least 2025.

If 2017 was any indication, Watt appears to have a very bright career ahead of him, and if he's half the player his very accomplished stud of an older brother—J.J. Watt—is, the Steelers likely have a future Hall of Famer on their hands.

Whether that HOF stuff turns out to be true remains to be seen, of course, but Watt definitely has the look of someone who could become Pittsburgh's next big thing on the defensive side of the football, meaning the player Keith Butler builds his entire unit around.

So Watt actually has a chance to replace Shazier, at least as it pertains to his importance to the defense.

Finally, I know some other things you might say.

A good rebuttal might be that Watt played tight end in college, and he's a super-freak of an athlete, one capable of making such a move to inside linebacker.

I also realize many players—including Steelers Pro Bowl left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who started his NFL career as a defensive lineman—have switched positions after turning pro. But in most cases, a switch like that is made not out of necessity to help the team, but as a last resort to help a fading professional football career, which was the case with Big Al.

At the moment, Watt's professional football career is anything but fading, and he will remain a Steelers outside linebacker for many years to come.