Danny Watkins, G, Baylor Bears
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
Danny is a really quick learner. He showed up at the Senior Bowl to play offensive guard, a position that he has never played before. In his two seasons at Baylor, he played offensive tackle, stepping in for current Rams offensive lineman Jason Smith in 2009. Usually, there are some bumps in the road when a player first transitions from tackle to guard, but not for Watkins. He's proven to be a quick learner his whole life, but more on that later.
What made it easy for Danny to transition to guard is how fundamental his attack is. He sets up a solid base, whether outside or on the interior, then at the point of contact he anchors down and becomes an immovable object. This is due to the fact that he has excellent technique and gets leverage on each block. When you factor that in with his strength, best demonstrated by his ability to squat 570 lbs and bench 425 lbs, you can begin to see how difficult it would be to move him after he's anchored down.
He appears as one of the nicest people you can interview. When he steps on the field, though, that goes all out the window and you see his mean streak. That's not a negative; you want your offensive linemen to be ruthless on each play. He finishes each block and looks to drive the defender into the ground.
Watkins has experience in football that's equal to that of most high school seniors. He's a naturally talented, athlete. That will get you by in college, but at the next level he'll face the best of the best. This will include speed, maneuvers, and just smarts that he has never seen in his football life. There will be an adjustment period that the team that drafts him will have to expect.
He will have to be an interior lineman at the next level due to the biggest weakness in his game, his kick out. During his kick, he doesn't have his best base. In open space a quick defender can get back to him on the inside. All of this will be fixed by him moving inside for the most part, but on speed rushers on the tackles, there will be instances where he'll have to kick out to protect wider gaps.
As mentioned above, Danny is a quick learner. He didn't start playing football until he was in junior college back in 2007 and was already 22 years old. He learned his craft quick as he was the starting tackle on that team that went 11-0 in 2008 before he transferred to Baylor. In 2009, in his first season at Baylor, he stepped up as the starting left tackle and never looked back.
He impressed his home team in Canada, the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League, so much that they drafted him with the 4th pick overall in the 2010 CFL draft. He obviously chose to go back to Baylor for his senior year and it should pay off for him this coming April.
I mentioned earlier that he shows a mean streak while on the football field. It comes from his background as he played hockey and rugby growing up in Canada. His background as a firefighter couldn't have hurt either when it comes to the toughness he displays on the field.
Potential NFL Team, Round
Offensive tackles always go higher than interior lineman in the draft, but with the New York Giants at the 19th pick, there's a possibility that the top four or five offensive tackles could be off the board. New York could look to draft the best guard instead of the 5th best offensive tackle. If the Giants don't take him, there was another Manning that needed extra protection this year. Peyton would love to have Watkins next to Jeff Saturday in the trenches protecting him.
With the 25th pick, the Seattle Seahawks might not see a quarterback that they really like and could choose to keep trying to build up their offensive line that struggled so much last year. It also appears that the New England Patriots might lose almost everyone on their offensive line. If Watkins is still on the board at 28, he seems to be a great fit and a Bill Belichek type of guy.
The Jets drafted Vladimir Ducasse last year to eventually take over one of the guard position with one of their few picks. He didn't really impress last season, so Rex Ryan may look to find a real long term solution with Watkins. It's been trendy for the Pittsburgh Steelers to get Mike Pouncey with the 31st pick, to place him next to his brother Maurkice. I believe Pittsburgh would go with the better player in Danny, instead of the cute pick of Pouncey.
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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