In watching Watson play at Florida State, a few things are evident from the first handful of plays seen.
First, he is a natural on the football field. It looks as though he has been playing his entire life; he just fits on the gridiron.
Secondly, his initial punch is as hard and violent as any offensive tackle in the 2013 draft class. His teammate and another potential first-round pick, defensive end Cornellius Carradine, said it best in a preseason interview with Emory Parker of the Orlando Sentinel:
Yeah, I feel it. It hurts. So that’s why I put my arm out. I have to either get my arm out, or bull [rush] him so that he won’t grab me. Because if he grabs you or punches you, it’s kind of impossible (to get by).
That was after Watson played eight games at Saddleback and before stepping onto Bobby Bowden Field for a live game.
Thirdly, Watson’s basketball background is the reason he fits in so well at tackle. His footwork is so quick and clean when slide-stepping. It greatly resembles that of a basketball player on defense, trying to keep a ball-handler from the basket.
All that said, there are a couple issues to note on Watson’s game.
He sometimes gives up on a block too early in the run game. He is a great athlete and finishes blocks regularly, but he will stop mid-play more often than is acceptable.
When a linebacker or defensive back blitzes off his edge along with a defensive lineman, he is slow to react to the edge-rusher. He hesitates, assumedly trying to decide which player to block—the defensive lineman in front of him or the edge-rusher.
This often resulted in the defensive end initially being double-teamed by him and right guard Tre’ Jackson before Watson realized he should be blocking the edge-rusher; he then would kick out and block said edge-rusher.
He got away with it in college, but at the next level, all edge-rushers are superior athletes and will burn him en route to blowing up his quarterback.
The good news about those two issues?
They are minor and require only coaching and repetition to fix—both of which he will get plenty of in an NFL camp.