How Brandon Watts Fits with the Minnesota Vikings

Darren PageFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2014

Sep 3, 2012; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets linebacker Brandon Watts (11) against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire

With their penultimate draft pick, the Minnesota Vikings went back to the linebacker position with Brandon Watts of Georgia Tech.

As it stands, the Vikings depth chart is crying out for a weak-side linebacker with developed coverage skills. The current group of linebackers isn't filled with guys who are liabilities against the pass, but there isn't one who is above and away a dynamic cover guy. If Mike Zimmer wishes to have one who can match up with opposing tight ends, he could see that in Brandon Watts.

Watts has the type of athletic potential that teams look for in a late-round, developmental selection. He has the open-field speed and range to pursue ball-carriers to fine effect or trail receivers in man coverage. That is the absolute best-case scenario for Watts.

He has a long way to go in order to get to that point. There are many inhibiting traits for Brandon Watts. The biggest issues are hesitation and a lack of instincts. Watts doesn't seem to grasp his reads and plays slower than he should as a result. No linebacker can be successful doing that.

The other big concern is that he's too much of a finesse linebacker. At 225 pounds, he doesn't have much weight to throw around anyway. Watts just doesn't embrace contact and isn't physical enough for linebacker play in the box. He tries to feel his way around blocks, which is bad news. When run-blockers get him squared up, he doesn't have the balance and hand usage to free himself.

Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting had this to say about Watts:

Watts is considered an undrafted free agent for next year's draft and I didn't see anything to change my mind. Looked good dropping into coverage but he never seemed to be around the ball. Lacked the ability to get off blocks in run game. Didn't display much side-to-sideline speed. He seems to be limited as both an athlete and a football player to compete at the next level.

In every way, Watts is a developmental player who is too raw to see the field right away. He won't have to do that to be worth a seventh-round selection, but he will have to show improvement to make the team. Minnesota has been preaching the value of competition ever since Mike Zimmer became the head coach. Brandon Watts needs to provide that to be worth his selection.

Watts will slide into the depth chart with numerous names ahead of him. He will have rookie camp, training camp and the preseason to prove his value. If he doesn't make a dent on special teams, he won't make the final roster.