A player who is moving his way up draft boards, former Baylor offensive linemen Danny Watkins is a solid prospect with good size (6’3”, 310 lbs.) and potential. Watkins started all 15 games at left tackle for the Bears in his two-year career there, being named second-team All-Big 12 after his junior season in 2009 by conference coaches. He was also named first-team All-Big 12 by the Associated Press. Watkins did not have any drop-off heading into his senior season in 2010, being named a first-team All-Big 12 as well as being on the Rotary-Lombardi Award watch list, given to an offensive linemen who shows outstanding performance and best “exemplifies the discipline of Vince Lombardi.” While most of his experience is at the left tackle position from his time in the collegiate ranks, many think Watkins will end up as a guard at the pro level. Here is a closer look at him, including his strengths and weaknesses.
Watkins shows great balance when setting himself up to pass blocking. He keeps a low center of gravity right out of stance and is not easily beaten by a strong inside move used by a quicker defensive end. This balance helps Watkins avoid being pushed back into the pocket by a strong bull rush and also helps him keep his eyes on the defender at all time. Tackles who get thrown off balance by defensive ends who are quicker than them usually are trying to keep their feet and in turn, lose vision of the defender.
Strength When Run Blocking
One of his more glaring strengths is his run blocking and more specifically, the strength he uses when engaged one on one with a defensive end or outside linebacker. He does a good job of getting his hands inside the defender and driving his legs. While some tackles show the ability to turn a defender one way, Watkins has the strength to drive his man into the second level of the defense. He blocks his man for the entire length of the play and will not stop his movement until the whistle.
While Watkins will struggle at times due to being a raw player, most of those attributes are coachable and he will get that coaching at the pro level. Some will criticize his form and technique while pass blocking, but the truth is the right coaching will help him correct those flaws. The bottom line is Watkins has the physical tools (other than arm length) that a coach or front office will look for in an offensive line, parts of the game that are not coachable. He will have moments of struggle in his first couple seasons in the league but I see a lot of potential in Watkins as a player who can greatly improve as a player who already is a solid prospect.
Watkins arm length (34 ¼ inches) could create some problems for him in the NFL, especially against some of the quicker defensive ends or defensive tackles. Offensive linemen with longer arms have an advantage in being able to control defenders one on one. Watkins shorter arms could allow pro defenders to get inside his pads and provide a strong bull rush. Defensive linemen also will be able to use quick moves inside and because of that, Watkins will need to develop quicker lateral movement make up for his arm length.
Aggressiveness When Pass Blocking
While aggressiveness is never a bad attribute to find in an offensive linemen prospect, at times it can be a problem for Watkins. While it comes as advantage when run blocking, he will sometimes get too anxious when setting himself up to pass block a defender. I have seen defenders on tape use double moves on Watkins in which he lunges at and gets beat inside. I would like to see him develop more patience in passing situations in which a defender might try to use double moves to take advantage of his aggressiveness.
Understanding/Picking Up Blitzes
This weakness is one of the reasons that experts and analysts often label Watkins as a raw prospect. While he does not struggle with his one on one pass block assignments, he can be confused by complex blitz packages that are heavy on his side. When watching his handling of the blitz on tape, he gets overwhelmed by a these heavy packages, sometimes throwing him off balance and in turn, not picking up his assignment. It is important that Watkins, as well as all other offensive prospects, take the mental side of the game to the next level and learn the different blitz packages that they could see in the NFL.
Projected Round: 2nd
NFL Comparison: Jonathan Goodwin, New Orleans Saints
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