Menelik Watson

March 30th, 2013 | Written by Kip Earlywine

The 2013 draft class is among the better offensive line classes I’ve ever seen.  An offensive tackle will (deservedly) go #1 overall.  There are three offensive tackles that on talent deserve to be top ten picks.  There are two guards that will probably end up being selected in the top twenty.  It’s as crowded a start as any, and only so many teams will consider offensive line a top priority.

In a much weaker environment, Menelik Watson would be the stereotypical draft hype guy that goes way sooner than he should based on his athleticism, as Jason Smith did in 2009.  Unfortunately for him, the high volume of superior options pushes Watson’s stock down to it’s rightful place: somewhere between the end of the first round and the end of the second.

Seattle is always looking for players that could improve from coaching and have the athleticism to dominate if they achieve their full potential.  They have one of the best talent developers in the business with Tom Cable.  Watson fits both about as well as he possibly could.

Watson never played American Football in high school.  That’s because he grew up in Manchester, England.  He played soccer instead.  Wanting to escape the tough streets from where he came, he sought to pursue a professional athletic career.  Problem was, he wasn’t sure what that would be.  At first he tried his hand at basketball for Marist’s basketball program.  He’d later attempt a switch to boxing.  People he met often assumed he was an offensive line recruit, and that idea eventually led him to try out for a small school football program, having never played the position.  That was in 2011.

Funny enough, the college that gave him a shot was Saddleback college in California, the very same for which Kyle Long (who transferred to Oregon) was the starting left tackle.  Long faced Watson during practices and recognizing his talent, urged the staff to start him at right tackle.  Watson got the job and caught on in a big way.  He would transfer to Florida State the next season.

Watson has a great story, though it highlights the reason why he might conceivably slip into the second round.  He never played football before 2011, and he only played one season against high level competition.  How high of an investment do you make on a player who very well might not be ready for a year or two to compete in the NFL?  Teams that need a tackle bad enough to select him early presumably would want him to start right away.

Seattle is in a fairly unique situation.  Breno Giacomini is a good player that was bogged down by penalties for much of the last two seasons.  The team might want to plan for life after Giacomini, but I don’t at all sense that they are uncomfortable with him starting.  Whichever tackle Seattle does draft, it seems unlikely that he’d play much in 2013.  The lack of experience disincentive could be strong for other needy teams, but it is almost non-existent for Seattle, especially considering Tom Cable’s track record with developing lineman who were far less gifted than Watson is.

It’s hard to judge Watson on face value from his game compilations.  He’s so new to the game that you can’t be sure which flaws to be fearful of and which to brush off.

What I can say with more certainty is that I love how quick his feet are for a 320 pounder.  I also love how he keeps his shoulders back when delivering his punch in pass protection.  His arms measured 34 inches, which is basically average for a tackle, but his results in pass protection were as if he had 35 or 36 inch arms.  Keeping the shoulders back and delivering a strong punch inside is a compensating factor for arm length.  Defenders had no chance when they attempted to bull rush him, and his foot speed allowed him to keep pace when opponents attempted to beat him around the corner.  As a pass protector, he reminds me an awful lot of Russell Okung when I scouted him back in 2010.

Watson has obvious power in the running game, but ironically he struggles to maintain his hands during drive blocks despite using his hands very well in pass protection.  He’ll often slide off run blocks then stand up and stop, an obvious sign that he’s not sure what to do.  He’s fast to the second level despite his size.  This coupled with his quick feet led many to speculate that Watson would light up the combine and shoot himself out of mid round obscurity and into the first round.

Except he didn’t.  In fact, Watson’s 40 time, 3-cone, and short shuttle were among the worst for the offensive tackle group.  This despite shedding ten pounds from his reported 2012 playing weight.  He also measured a slightly disappointing 6’5⅛” after being widely reported at 6’6″ or 6’7″ prior to the combine.  Of course, height isn’t really a major deal, as John Moffitt, JR Sweezy, James Carpenter, and Russell Okung all stand 6’5″ or less.  Tom Cable’s mentor, Alex Gibbs, actually preferred his tackles to be exactly 6’5″.  On the whole though, Watson had one of the more disappointing performances at the 2013 combine, especially for a guy that is banking on his athleticism to get drafted.

Funny thing is, I’m not sure GM’s care how he did.  All indications from excellent sources compiled at outlets such as Rotoworld.com suggest that Watson’s first round stock has actually solidified post-combine instead of deteriorating.  On the other hand, the sourced Tony Pauline only has Watson 67th on his post-combine rankings.

I suspect that Watson is unlikely to reach the #56 pick, and he might not even come that close.  But if he does make it, I would be surprised if Seattle didn’t draft him.  He would be one of the very best players available, he fits one of the team’s biggest positional draft targets, and he is a great fit for the Seahawks roster situation, Tom Cable’s profile, and the Seahawks’ general draft philosophy.  Few players would thrill me more to see at the 56th overall pick.  I suspect the Seahawks would be thrilled to have a chance at his talent as well.  It wouldn’t even surprise me if Seattle traded up targeting him.

25 Responses to “Menelik Watson”

  1. Maz says:

    There is going to be a few good players on the board at #56. If he is the best one I would be ok with it. Would be ok with Terron Armstead as well. Hoping Margus Hunt falls to us though. There is a slim possibility of that happening.

  2. drewdawg11 says:

    I first became aware of Watson last year when he was considering the university of Washington. I was shocked at how agile he was for a large man with no real football experience. I would do a backflip if he fell to us. Rob, I’d also like to get your take on Chris faulk’s situation. He was a great prospect before the knee injury, and I’m surprised that he left school after missing the year. If he’s healthy, I believe that he’d be an ideal right tackle, with the chance to develop into a left tackle.

    • Rob’s really busy this weekend. Not sure if he’ll be able to check the blog the next couple days, we’ll see.

      I don’t know much about Faulk, but I do know that 331 pound athletes with bad knee injuries in their past are very risky. Seattle has never drafted an offensive lineman as squatty as Faulk- although Carpenter developed a weight problem and basically has a Chris Faulk type size profile now. Faulk was the 3rd heaviest offensive linemen at the combine out of 30 participants.

      There isn’t much of him out there, but I don’t think his feet are quick enough to play left tackle in the NFL, and right tackle seems like a risk as well. When Carpenter bulked up to this kind of size, he lost his ability to defend the edge, and Carpenter was a good athlete in college.

  3. Jmpasq says:

    I cut Maryland as well just in case u guys want to see it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KqCsS_ajFI

  4. The Ancient Mariner says:

    Weren’t Tez and Walter both one-year starters at FSU?

  5. drewdawg11 says:

    The biggest difference would be that they grew up playing the game. Watson did not. Less wear and tear, but more development time needs to be out in by he and the staff. Learning blocking schemes is difficult for an inexperienced player.

  6. Colin says:

    Sounds good to me. Now if only this damn Flynn deal would get done…

  7. drewdawg11 says:

    Jmpasq,

    Thanks for that film. The play that you highlighted where he misses the assignment is a perfect example of way I was saying. In time, he should be fine. He’s be an ideal candidate to basically “red shirt” his first season, while getting some garbage time reps. Maybe by mid season he becomes a part if the rotation. If course, I still believe that he’s long gone by the time we draft.

  8. Kenny Sloth says:

    Watson definitely has tons of potential. I was really impressed with EJ Manuel. My third QB in this draft.

  9. drewdawg11 says:

    Manuel is as tantalizing a prospect as there is, physically… It’s the consistency and decision making that is scary. He really under-performed throughout his career. He should be a star.

  10. Michael says:

    James Carpenter was drafted to play RT and has since been moved to guard. Unlike many people, I don’t see that as a huge disappointment at #25 overall. In fact I rather like the idea that a Tackle’s downside can be protected a bit by a position change if he proves incapable on the outside; this feature is not built into all positions. If a guy is a bust at QB, S, TE, LB, HB, or WR it is pretty unlikely that he will salvage his career by simply changing his number and lining up at a different place on the field. I even think this is a small part of what makes Left Tackles so darn valuable. Think about it; A guy that can’t stick at LT can try a move to RT, if he still can’t hack it, maybe he can move inside to Guard. You obviously draft a “can’t miss” LT to protect the QB’s blind side, but isn’t it nice to have that many floors to fall through before the guy ceases to be an asset? Who would you rather have drafted, Jamarcus Russell or Robert Gallery? Neither on panned out at the position he was drafted to play, but while Russell was out of the league in 3 years, Gallery managed to start another 62 games (and perform pretty well) after being declared a failure at Tackle.

    Kip, this is a bit more in depth than I was planning to go to ask a simple question, but whatcha gonna do? My question is: in your opinion does Watson offer the option to move inside should he fail to realize his potential at RT?

    • TJ says:

      If Carpenter becomes a solid starting guard, even if he is never a pro bowler, I think that his selection at #25 will have been worth it. Not every 1st round pick will be a star, but if they can be solid, they strengthen the core of the team. For the exact reasons you described, I viewed Carpenter’s selection as a semi-safe pick with high potential upside.

    • Madmark says:

      I think Carpenter played his best football as a left guard but had versatility to play left and right tackle for Alabama due to injuries to others. I have always thought he never should have been moved. When I watch tape he was a road grader in that guard position and actually I’m totally excited to see him play it this year.

    • I think if Seattle drafts a tackle and he can’t handle it then moves to guard, it’s a failed pick. Seattle doesn’t need another guard. My top priority would be drafting a guy that can athletically handle the position. A couple of my favorites are Menelik Watson and Brennan Williams. Jordan Mills looks capable to me as well.

  11. Mylegacy says:

    I like this kid. His inexperience shows – but I like him.

    On running plays – he takes his man and is quite content to push the guy half way across the field. He is quick past the line and getting into the linebackers where he glues on to his target and takes him out of the play.

    On passing plays – I also like. When someone tries to bull rush him he wins. On several plays smaller faster players tried to go around him but he went with them, kept them out of the pocket and actually – in a couple of cases was directly behind the QB still fighting off his man. He doesn’t just give the guy a shot and then watch.

    Clearly, he’s green – but I like what I see.

  12. Madmark says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I not really high on the defensive side of this draft. There’s just more offensive talent in this draft to be had. My first mock draft was last year and the one thing I learned is I was closer last January to getting the picks right than I was the day before the 2012 draft. So I’ve kept my January draft this year to review from time to time. In the 1st round I had DeAndre Hopkins and the fact that we got Percey Harvin I feel a certain vindication that he was a WR. After all I’m not a football guy that would have such info that he would be available.
    In the 2nd round I had Oday Aboushi who had slightly better combine results than Watson. They both have the same build but I think that I can get Oday in the 3rd to 4th round.
    In January I had this guy at 4th round but looking closer he’s not going to make it to us even in the 3rd round. Some will say I’m reaching but I don’t think so. Seattle has never had that great TE until Miller came over from the raiders and showed us what a complete TE can do in a running offense.
    In 2nd round I’ve decide to enhance the offensive line with TE by drafting Travis Kelce from Cincinnati. To me he screams Seattle and with Tom Cable help I think he has the potential to be another Mike Ditka. He sure has the attitude. He played in a system used him in roles from inline TE, H-back, to slot. Cincinnati ran a lot of shotgun with read option running plays. This guys strength is his run block and the fact that he plays the game with a gladiator mentality. His weakness is he hasn’t run a wide varity of routes but this didn’t stop him from leading his team in reception. This guy can step in day one for his blocking alone and if he does what he did his last year in college which was an average of 3 receptions a game for 55yds what more can ya want on a running team.
    Miller could get injured or a cap casualty, McCoy on his last year, and I don’t see the basketball player starting his 1st year full time. Most of all I finally would like to get a TE that in a year in Seattle could be a complete TE not a oversized receiver.

    • Maz says:

      I like Tyler Eifert, Vance McDonald, Travis Kelce, Joseph Fauria, and Chris Gragg as TE options in this draft, for the Seahawks. Of course Eifert is most likely out of the question for us at #56.

      McDonald is a great all around TE prospect. He could be available in the 3rd round for us. More of a Jason Witten type than a Heath Miller.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX9dKo8E574

  13. dave crockett says:

    One thing to keep in mind is that I suspect every 2013 draft selection will need to bring something to special teams to really have much shot at making the roster and seeing playing time.

    In other words, even if the team is taking the long view on a guy like Watson’s potential at tackle I imagine they definitely envision that he could contribute immediately on special teams. The last guy I recall Seattle bringing in who couldn’t get on the field AND brought nothing to special teams was Lockette. He didn’t get a lot of rope. Carroll and Schneider do not have much patience with ERW (Eat-Ride-Watch) guys.

  14. Chris says:

    Hi Kip, thanks for the great analysis and reads. I visit this blog daily and enjoy the content you and Rob put together.

    I know this article is about Watson… I want to talk about the players Watson practiced against daily. How do you feel about DT Everett Dawkins as the 3Tech DT? He started 41 games and has the measurables that Carroll/Bill Walsh love for the position: 6-2 290. He and fellow big DT Anthony McCloud freed up lineman for Carradine and Werner… And I can see him as part of a DL rotation when Avril and Clem are the DEs. Thoughts?

    • I was scouting the FSU defensive ends a couple months back, and I noticed Dawkins (#93) as he stormed in to make a play. It was so emphatic, I was almost certain I had just discovered something.

      Then I watched his compilations on youtube and that excitement died a quick death. He is incapable of pushing the pocket, he’s more of a “slip by” type like Kawann Short, except Short is just so much better.

      I’d be disappointed if we drafted him. I have a UDFA grade on him. Good athlete with prototypical 3-tech size, but he’s got little power and didn’t strike me as having a ton of untapped upside. He had weak production too. I’d much rather spend a late pick on someone like Georgia’s Abry Jones who is a more complete player with more upside.

  15. Leonard says:

    One major potential upside of Watson is the very low mileage on his body. I am getting a little sick of the injured young linemen. I know that it doesn’t guarantee he would be healthy but think about how much easier it would be to develop these young guys if they didn’t have to miss so much time being hurt.