Normally if a player leads a National Championship team -- that also happened to be one of the very best defenses in college football -- in sacks, he gets plenty of recognition in the draft process.
Especially if he enters the draft that year.
But Clemson Tigers defensive tackle Carlos Watkins is something different. Despite leading the Tigers with 10.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for a loss, and 50 defensive stops, there has been relatively little buzz around him thus far in the draft process. But Watkins’ play en route to taking down the favored Alabama Crimson Tide, and the New York Giants’ own needs at his position, deserve a closer look.
Height - 6 feet, 4 inches
Weight - 312 pounds
40 Time - 5.06 (projected)
- Great frame for the position. Prototypical height and weight featuring long arms and big hands. He carries his weight well and doesn’t look “sloppy.”
- Shows a good burst off the line. He is both athletic and powerful.
- Is an absolute load when he plays with good pad level. Watkins is a handful for offensive linemen when he keeps his pads down.
- Flashes the ability to anchor and be stout in the run game.
- Shows good hand usage to wind hand battles inside.
- Has the agility to be effective in tackle/end twists.
- Disruptive interior defender. Lead Clemson with 10.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for a loss.
- Fifth year senior (medical red-shirt following a car accident in September of 2013), has plenty of experience.
- Pad level is inconsistent. Might be linked to stamina or conditioning.
- Needs to get more consistent using his hands to fight off blockers, rather than relying on his power and athleticism.
- Struggles to win with a second effort if his initial rush is stymied.
- Will be a 24-year-old rookie.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
In theory, Watkins should fit perfectly with the Giants’ defense.
He has the requisite height, length, athleticism, size, and power to be a “two-way” defensive tackle for the Giants. His ability as an interior disrupter would be appreciated, and his ability to defend the run is definitely valuable in a division that features the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line and running game.
The bigger question is what do the Giants want from their defensive tackles? If they want a more “classic” 1-technique/3-technique arrangement in 2017, then Watkins certainly fits, and he could be a disruptive force next to Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, and Jason Pierre-Paul (assuming JPP is re-signed).
However, he might be less-well suited if they want something similar to the massive, and neigh immovable, combination of Harrison and Johnathan Hankins.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 43rd overall
Mocking The Draft - N/A
CBS Sports - 56th overall
Draft Countdown - 57th overall
Draft Tek - 57th overall
The Giants not only have a defensive tackle entering free agency this year in Hankins, but they will also have one entering free agency next year in Jay Bromley. If Jerry Reese holds true to one of his more established draft patterns, it’s pretty likely that he will take a defensive tackle highly in the 2017 draft, probably in the second or third round.
While the ratings on the outside often differ from the various NFL teams’ rankings, Watkins is generally considered a second-round value, and is ranked right around the Giants’ second round draft slot.
That doesn’t mean much, but his physical ability, versatility, production, and the Giants’ potential need Carlos Watkins a name to watch.