Carlos Watkins 2017: NFL Draft Profile

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October 1, 2016: Clemson defensive lineman Carlos Watkins (94) recovers a fumble during 1st half action between the Clemson Tigers and the Louisville Cardinals at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC. (Photo by Doug Buffington/ Icon Sportswire).

Overview
Position: Interior defender (three-technique)
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 312
School: Clemson

Carlos Watkins 2017: NFL Draft Profile

Carlos Watkins had a memorable five-year career for the Clemson Tigers. He came to Clemson as the fifth-rated player in the state of North Carolina, and the eighth-rated high school defensive tackle in the nation. Watkins was eased in as a freshman, recording just 13 tackles. His sophomore year started a roller coaster ride for the defensive lineman when a car wreck shortened his season. The wreck ended up killing the driver, Watkins’ cousin and ended Watkins season promptly. Watkins was given a red shirt and came back as a third-year sophomore to play in 11 games, despite still being limited in a role.

As a junior, Watkins became featured as a starter. He took advantage, putting up 34 tackles, 7.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. He also happened to record a pick-six. It was enough to earn him second-team All-ACC honors. However, when Watkins returned for his senior year is when he really became a draft commodity. That season he put up a surprising 10.5 sacks, to go with 50 tackles, 12.5 being for loss. Watkins was named to the All-ACC team, was a second team All-American and of course finished as a national champion.

Watkins had two sacks against Ohio State as a senior, and put up six tackles against Alabama, proving that the brightest of lights and biggest moments had no effect on him. With his experience and level of play, he is a strong draft commodity. The question is how high will he go?

Strengths

  • Upper body strength.
  • Athleticism and quickness.
  • Quick and violent hands.
  • Good burst off the line.
  • Exhibits exceptional discipline.

Weaknesses

  • Lower body strength.
  • Has a tendency to get pushed around.
  • Struggles to shed blocks.
  • Can lose the battles in leverage.

NFL Comparison: Corey Liuget

Teams with needs at position: Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans

Projection: third round

Bottom Line:

If there’s one thing that will have to quickly be taught to Watkins, it will be an ability to stay low. Watkins tends to have a quick first step and can burst off the line. However, he tends to stand tall too often, and it loses him all of the leverage he built up. There are times where his step is so strong that it can break through the line with impact. There are other times a stronger guard can hold him up at the line, and even drive him backward when he doesn’t get a great first step.

However, his first step, his hands, and his game acumen make him a great threat in the NFL. He is solid in moving laterally for his size and is a pretty effective run defender. With a little more technique out of the gates he can turn into a solid starter in the NFL, and a solid value when selected. Watkins has the production and strengths to be a second round player, but being a fifth-year senior with questionable upside could go with some ironing out to do could easily push him into the middle rounds.

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