While the Oakland Raiders are far from a contender heading into 2013, GM Reggie McKenzie is doing everything in his power to make sure that the team is competitive in the foreseeable future.
McKenzie started by drafting a potential-laden cornerback in D.J. Hayden in the first round, and made another impact move when the Raiders were on the clock again in the second round. With the No. 42 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Oakland selected Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson, a raw-yet-talented right-side blocker.
Far from a finished product, Watson has the upside and athleticism that the Raiders consistently look for when on the clock.
Originally from Manchester, England, Watson has taken an interesting road to the NFL. Watson came to the United States on a Marist College basketball scholarship, using his 5’6’’, 320-pound frame to dominate the paint. He eventually took his talents to FSU, where he joined the football team and made the most of his impressive size and fluidity.
If it wasn’t for his lack of football experience, Watson could have been a Top 15 talent this year. He has elite athleticism and footwork that teams look for in a tackle. He has good balance and a physical pop that would allow him to play on either side of the offensive line. Overall, he’s a unique physical specimen that could develop into an elite tackle given the proper coaching and time.
It’s going to take some time before Watson will have the polish to be a 16-game starter, but the tools are there. If he can learn to hone some of the finer aspects of his game – technique, understanding play calling and assignments, hand awareness – there’s no reason to believe Watson can’t develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber talent. Getting stronger will help Watson as well.
It’s another risky move for the Raiders, but the potential is there for Watson to become one of the biggest steals in the 2013 draft class. Only time will tell.