During the NFL Combine, scouts from all 32 teams look for that one player to come out of nowhere and blow people away.
This year, offensive tackle Menelik Watson could be that prospect.
There are few casual fans that know much about Watson, but scouts are beginning to take notice of him. He was the starting tackle for the Florida State Seminoles last season, and did a great job with the team.
What is surprising is that it was Watson’s only year of college football. According to the Seminoles’ site, Watson was actually a basketball player at Marist College before transferring to Florida State.
Watson is listed at 6’6’’ and 320 pounds. While he’s a big boy, in no way does he look like it when on the field. His quick feet and surprisingly impressive athleticism helped him contain defenders on a consistent basis. This led to a much cleaner pocket for another NFL prospect, E.J. Manuel.
His athleticism will shine in the combine over the weekend. According to his profile on the team’s site, he can actually run the 40-yard dash in the 4.7 second range. For a lineman that weighs around 320 pounds, that is a pretty frightening number to see.
After being a relatively unknown prospect, Watson continues to climb up draft boards everywhere. According to Matt Miller's Draft Big Board, he has Watson as the eighth offensive tackle, and the No. 64 player available overall. It’s a strong position for a player that only played one year of football.
That being said, scouts love to see relatively unknown players have impressive days at the combine. An impressive time in the 40-yard dash will certainly turn a lot of heads, especially from such a big guy. He will likely also have an impressive vertical leap due to his background as a college basketball player.
There are two things that might turn teams away from Watson.
First, the lack of experience is a problem for teams who expect him to understand all of the aspects of the game right away.
Second, he will be 23 years old after being drafted. While that’s not old in any sense, his age combined with inexperience could be a red flag to a team.
Overall, Watson is projected to go somewhere in the second or third round of the draft. However, if he can put up some impressive numbers at the combine, he may be able to climb up to the early second round or maybe even late in the first round.