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2017 NFL Draft Profile: Carlos Watkins

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After 5 seasons with the Clemson Tigers, Carlos Watkins molded himself into one of the better DTs in college football and was a critical component of Clemson’s excellent DL over the past 2 seasons. While at Clemson Watkins had to wait his turn, especially after taking a medical redshirt in 2013 due to a car accident, but he was able to put together several excellent seasons and avoided turning pro after the 2015 season to help Clemson win a national title this year.

Carlos Watkins College Stats

Season Games Tackles Tackles for Loss Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Sacks
Season Games Tackles Tackles for Loss Passes Broken Up QB Hurries Sacks
2016 15 50 13.5 4 4 10.5
2015 15 34 7.5 3 2 3.5
2014 11 8 2 0 1 0
2013 3 5 1.5 0 1 0
2012 9 13 1 0 2 0

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 313 lbs.

40 yard Dash: 4.98

Coming out of the 2015 season Watkins was a likely second round draft pick. This year it appears his stock has slid a bit. Now most services have him as a 3rd or 4th round draft pick. The slide is a bit shocking because of his increased production in 2016, but most of the concerns from scouts and others seem to have come from watching film.

The big concerns for Watkins come down to pad level and his motor. The worry with Watkins, and we definitely saw a bit of this against Alabama, is that he can get pushed around easily when his pad level gets too high. This isn’t a huge shock, almost ever lineman has the problem, but Watkins can struggle to keep his pads down against some of the better competition in college. It also doesn’t help that Watkins sees a real dropoff in ability when he gets fatigued. Conditioning will be a priority when he gets drafted.

The two things that will bode well for Watkins in the NFL are his athleticism and his football awareness. Even when trying to get to the QB Watkins is aware of what is going on and demonstrates an ability to get his hands in the air to attempt to deflect the pass. The intricacies of Clemson’s DL in terms of stunts and twists also means he should be able to pick up an NFL defensive scheme and attempt to execute it rather quickly. His athleticism will also benefit teams because he can move laterally to help close off gaps and reduce options in the running game for opposing offenses.

Some Clemson fans have been a little perturbed by how Watkins has slid down draft boards. A lot of us felt that he was a fringe first round pick and some comparisons are being made to Grady Jarrett. The difference between Jarrett and Watkins is physical ability. Jarrett is only 6’1” 290 lbs. while Watkins is 6’3” 309 lbs. The concern for Jarrett was always how he could stand up to bigger and more physical OL than what he saw in college.

For Watkins the issue his actual technique. Teams see someone with his NFL ready size and they want film that shows excellent work. They aren’t seeing that with Watkins and that is why he is dropping. With the right coaching and conditioning it is cetainly possible that Watkins turns into an excellent DT in the NFL, possibly even surpassing Grady Jarrett, but there are plenty of valid concerns about him right now.