Menelik Watson's story is a strange one. The Manchester, England native has only one year of major college football under his belt and has been relatively unknown until recently. (This is where a writer much funnier than myself would make some witty English joke, perhaps pertaining to teeth or some other English cliche, however funny isn't my strong suit so I'll leave it to all of you in the comments) Yet, with such a lack of experience, Watson is still widely considered a first round selection.
Turf Show Times' very own draftnik, 3k, didn't have Watson on his big board back in November, but said that would be different as of today.
@hawkwayoflife Well some of those guys went back to school (Lewan, Bunche) so he'd probably slide in the top 15.— Joe McAtee (@3k_) March 7, 2013
The Florida State offensive tackle, basketball convert, is considered a special athlete by talent evaluators. Watson, having grown up in England, never played football until his college basketball career at Marist College fizzled out. He began his journey into the college football ranks at Saddleback Junior College where he teamed up with none other than Kyle Long, Chris Long's brother.
Following his stint at Saddleback, Watson took his talents to Tallahassee where he would play one season with the Florida State University Seminoles. Having only one year of big-time ball experience, Watson's glaring drawback is that he's raw. Very raw.
@hawkwayoflife The tough thing for Watson is, he's the high ceiling/low floor guy— Joe McAtee (@3k_) March 7, 2013
Watson needs a lot of work, however he displayed the ability to develop rapidly at FSU. Pair the capacity to develop quickly with offensive line savant, Paul Boudreau, and the Rams could have a complimentary combination if Watson is indeed the selection come April 25th.
Once Watson started seeing playing time at FSU, his 6-foot-5 320 pound frame, coupled with his quick basketball feet, helped him stifle defensive linemen and protect the edge. Watson displays an excellent initial burst which helps him drive defensive linemen off the ball in the run game - however, he's still developing physically.
After watching three games of Watson's tape I found myself conflicted on whether or not I would want the Rams to select him. One play Watson will get to the second level and devastate his opponent, but then the very next play he will look utterly lost.
A Few Film Notes:
- Gets to the second level FAST but struggles to locate and finish.
- Once latched on defenders rarely break free.
- Watch the play starting at 1:16.
- Can look lost at times/can look dominant at times
- Lacks a powerful initial punch
Comparison's between Watson and another inexperienced tackle have reared their ugly heads, but it seems premature. Jason Smith didn't and doesn't like the game of football. Watson seems to enjoy hitting people seeing as he previously explored the sport of boxing. And while it may be too soon to know Watson's feelings on the game of football, there is no doubt probing would take place prior to Snead and Fisher taking a chance on a player with such a lack of experience.
After his surprising flop at the NFL Combine, the weight room and practice field should be Watson's two best friends right now. Many loved Watson's feet on tape, yet he finished last in the 3 cone drill. He's deficient in upper body strength and his technique needs work, but teams are enamored with his...*looks around anxiously*…potential. Watson will be one of the oldest players to be drafted in the upcoming draft, turning 25 in December.
Les Snead and Jeff Fisher aren't afraid of projects, but at what point does the workbench become overcrowded?
Landing a player like Watson with extreme upside in the second round would be ideal, however there are enough tackle hungry teams to make that unlikely. Taking Watson in the first is risky. No matter where you stand on the issue - draft the plug-and-play prospect or take the player with the high ceiling - Menelik Watson will continue to be linked to the Rams until the void at right tackle is addressed.