As we continue our series of 2011 NFL Draft prospect profiles let's look at a somewhat unheralded offensive lineman who has been drawing a lot of positive attention this week during Senior Bowl practices. Baylor offensive guard Danny Watkins is a late-comer to football and will be 26 years old when the 2011 season starts, but he is one of those players who seems to be rising up draft boards as the pre-draft process unfolds in earnest.
Here is a comment from CBS Sports draft analyst Chad Reuter:
Daniel Watkins (Baylor) didn't play football until four years ago, but his technique and strength were exceptional in Monday's practice against strong defensive linemen such as Baylor teammate Phil Taylor and Jarvis Jenkins (Clemson). Few offensive guard prospects in recent memory play with the knee-bend, arm extension and leverage that Watkins displayed in one-on-one drills. He also looked very adept at pulling behind the line of scrimmage and positioning himself to take on linebackers at the second level. Even though he's 26 years old and lacks football experience, it will be tough for him to escape the second round, or maybe even the top 50 overall picks.
From The Sporting News:
Watkins (6-3 1/2, 312) has helped himself immensely all week. He plays with consistent leverage, showing the flexibility and athleticism to bend his knees and sink his hips vs. bull rushers. He also is able to consistently get his hands inside his man's frame, enabling him to sustain blocks.
From USA Today:
Watkins' age and relative lack of polish will work against him, and he almost surely must move from left tackle to guard in the pro game. But ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. sees him as a rising prospect.
"He's an interesting guy with his size and the versatility he provides," Kiper says. "He's going to continue to get better because they coach you up in the NFL. With the guard group not being particularly strong, that helps him a lot.
"It wouldn't shock me if he went in the second or third round when all is said and done."
Now, on to the scouting reports.
OG, Baylor (Sr.)
6-foot-4, 310 pounds
Projection: Round 2 or 3
From Draft Countdown:
- Athletic with terrific quickness and agility
- Nimble feet w/ nice balance and body control
- Outstanding natural strength and power
- Shows the ability to recover when beat
- Will get some movement in the run game
- Understands positioning and angles
- Can get to second level and work in space
- Extremely competitive with a great motor
- Tough and plays with a nasty demeanor
- Still has a ton of unfulfilled potential
- A bit older than the normal prospect
- Just average size with short arms
- Frame appears close to being maxed out
- Is not real stout at the point of attack
- Does not have a lot of playing experience
- Raw technique, footwork and hand use
Has only played four seasons of organized football --- Selected by the BC Lions with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 CFL Draft --- Will most likely move inside to guard at the next level --- Project who will require some patience but is improving at an impressive pace and best days are still ahead --- A very intriguing prospect with the talent to start in the NFL.
From Draft 101:
- One of the most underrated linemen in the draft
- Plays with good leverage
- Strong lower body allows him to anchor in pass protection
- Good footwork allows him to stay in front of his man and make blocks in space
- Displays a strong motor which shows in his ability to sustain blocks
- Hard worker and quick study - has improved from a raw physical talent to a well rounded blocker in just 4 years
- Natural athleticism - former tight end with a lot of upside as a blocker
- Overaged - 26 years old - stock will drop as team's will be less willing to develop a player who should be entering his prime
- Does not a get a lot of push as a run blocker
- Needs to learn to use his hands better
- Lacks the height and length to play tackle at the next level
- Still learning the game - only 4 years of football experience.