April 28, 2011
Pros: Having never played guard in game situations before Senior Bowl week, Watkins kicked inside nonetheless and looked as if he'd played the position for years. He has a natural low stance from which he explodes into the defender. He also has tremendous upper-body strength; even when he's bent back at the point of attack, he can resurface and win the power battle. Has a wide lower body which he naturally uses to establish a strong base as he gets his second foot down and in position.
For his size (6-foot-4, 312 pounds), Watkins has real side-to-side agility; he's very good at preventing defenders from getting around him with quick outside moves. Played out of a two-point stance most of the time at Baylor, but told me at the Senior Bowl that he's just as happy to put his hand down and blow defenders out. Also practiced at the center position and had an equal affinity for that position. Selected fourth overall in the 2010 Canadian Football League draft, but chose to fulfill his obligation to Baylor and try his luck with the NFL after his senior season.
Cons: The former part-time firefighter (he went to Butte because of the school's Fire Sciences program) will turn 27 years old in November, which may give potential NFL suitors pause as much as his lack of experience -- his age could make him a one-contract guy. Doesn't possess great second-level agility, but may be able to modify his technique over time to fit a zone-combo scheme. Watkins' natural ability to adopt a new position will be tested by more complex NFL defenses -- it wouldn't be surprising if he struggles at first as his technique catches up to his raw ability.
Conclusion: You'll be hearing a lot about Watkins -- he's a humble guy with a gregarious personality, and he's impressed most draft analysts. The mistake would be in assuming that he's a "Rudy" type just because he's a natural media favorite. Watkins has the kind of ability that could soon have him among the elite at the guard position.
Pros: Not explosive off the snap, but Jordan has an array of moves to get past and around blockers -- if he's backed up at the line, he can spin out very effectively into a tackle, and he's exceptional with his hands -- Ndamukong Suh is the best I've seen in recent years when it comes to separating a double-team with consecutive rip moves, but Jordan shares that skill at a lower level.
Excellent swim move to get past single-blockers, as well, and he gets to the quarterback quickly when he's free. Good re-direct when he's boxed out. As an end, shows good speed around the tackle off the snap and can shoot sideways well to the quarterback after his turn. Crashed inside very well, especially stunting in at an angle. Didn't stunt or loop a lot at Cal, but he has the speed and disruptive ability to confuse lines in the right set of schemes.
Cons: Though Jordan can get to the ballcarrier with great suddenness, he's not always accurate when it comes to taking a guy down -- he will overpursue himself right out of tackles at times. Doesn't always disengage or slip off blocks when it seems that he could. Great strength for his size (6-foot-4, 287 pounds), but purely explosive speed is not part of Jordan's skill set. He disrupts with strength and technique.
Conclusion: Cal has been ahead of the curve when it comes to providing defensive linemen to the NFL that could (and do) fit in different types of situations -- Brandon Mebane and Tyson Alualu are but two recent examples. Similarly, Jordan could excel in several different situations, and I think he'll be in different places on his NFL line, but his strength/speed ratio has me slotting him in as a five-tech end in three- or four-man fronts — both of which the Saints use.
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