Saturday, January 12, 2013

Prospect Profile: OT Menelik Watson - Florida State

Florida State Profile:

Name:  Menelik Watson
Height:  6' - 6"
Weight:  320 lbs.
Class:  Junior
Hometown:  Manchester, Great Britain
Date of Birth:  12/22/88 (24 years old)
Junior College:  Saddleback JC (Mission Viejo, CA)
High School:  Burnage 

College Career Notes:

2012 (Jr. Season):  Started 12 of 12 games at Right Tackle for the Seminoles.  Named Honorable Mention All-ACC by the Media and Coaches.  

2011 (So. Season):  Started 8 of 11 games for SCC at Offensive Tackle and played 3 games at Defensive End.  Was considered 4 star recruit coming out of JC and No. 19 JUCO Prospect Overall before choosing FSU over Auburn, Oregon, Cal, Oklahoma and Rutgers.

2010 (Fr. and RFr. Seasons):  Moved to America after training at the CDA Basketball Academy in Spain most of his youth.  Signed with Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY and played there for two years.  Emerged as a team captain as a forward/center, averaging 4.7 pts/3.3 boards per game.

2012 Highlights (#71 Right Tackle - Junior Season):

2011 (So. Season Highlights - Saddleback JC):

Strengths (+):
+ Outstanding athleticism, comes from a heavy basketball background
+ Lean physique with good conditioning, plays fast in the 2nd half
+ Shadows pass rushers well, does not overextend, shifts well side to side and stays square consistently
+ Has solid drive in the run game, leg drive is pretty good
+ Big upside as he is still learning the game, outstanding promise
+ Second level blocking is above average, moves very well in space
+ Phenomenal workout numbers, expected to be clocked around 4.7 at the 2013 NFL Combine
+ Not penalty prone, coached well under Rick Trickett (Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran)

Weaknesses (-):
- Raw game at the college level, got away with a lot with his outstanding athleticism
Can initiate contact a bit high in the run game
Will occasionally lunge in pass pro, getting beat by swim moves
Still has a lot to learn, will need some time to develop
Probably limited to a ZBS at the NFL level immediately, possibly PBS at OG with his strength

It was a bit of a surprise seeing the high potential Menelik Watson declare early for the NFL draft...but given that Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews were returning to school, it probably felt like an opportune moment.  Watson is the epitome of athleticism in an offensive tackle.  Possessing rare movement skills, the "Dancing Bear" skills, as well as the strength and conditioning to possibly be a dominant run blocker in the NFL, Watson is going to be a hot commodity as a developmental offensive lineman at the next level.  Still learning the game, he projects at Right Tackle early in the NFL, most likely in a Zone Blocking Scheme, but with added bulk and work he could become a tackle or guard in a Power Blocking Scheme if he displays the toughness to do so.  What is evident are his pass pro skills which are above average, possibly good enough to man the blind side, but given his experience in Tallahassee at Right Tackle he'll have his work cut out for himself upgrading while in the NFL.  Projected a Day 2 pick, possibly an early Day 3 pick.  Look for a pickup somewhere in the No. 70-to No. 110 range. 

Outlook as a Raider:
While it's clear Oakland is looking for upgrades at Right Tackle, LG and RG...Watson still projects more as a project to develop.  When Watson runs the fastest time at the Combine for an offensive lineman the "He's going to Oakland in the First Round" jokes will start.  However, Al, rest his groundbreaking soul, is gone, and Reggie is the new sheriff in town.  Solid plug and play guys are really needed in Oakland right now with Cooper Carlisle likely set to retire or retreat to a backup role and Willie Smith and/or Khalif Barnes likely to be moving on next season.  2012 Rookies Tony Bergstrom and Lucas Nix should be in the mix, but a guy like Watson would certainly push the envelope at Camp.  It's unclear to call the need on the OL until Oakland chooses their next Offensive Coordinator.  The word "EXPLOSIVE" is continuing to be used by Dennis Allen which will mean a lot of pass pro, and some unique play designs.  Watson is a dynamite athlete and can block in space, in fact he might be one of the few, if not only, Offensive Lineman in this draft who can get out in front of a Darren McFadden or Mike Goodson screen pass and make an effective block out in front of the running path.  Plays in space and pass pro are Watson's big upside, so that should make him an attractive 3rd or 4th Round option for Oakland this April...two rounds that Oakland could be looking to trade down in and gain more picks so they can afford to take guys like Watson while still grabbing their much needed defensive playmakers as the Oakland Draft develops.

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