NFL draft analysts love jargon. Sometimes I find myself limiting my own use intentionally because it can become so tedious. Some of the big ones center around a player and their potential. “High ceiling” and “tremendous upside” get tossed around a lot to describe a player with a lot of athleticism, but lacking the game film to support it.
No player in the 2013 NFL draft fit the bill better than offensive tackle Menelik Watson.
Watson was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round, and with it comes the expectation that he will at least compete for the starting right tackle spot. It’s important to note that this year with the Raiders will be Watson’s third year of playing football in his entire life.
While I studied Watson extensively last season and I do believe he does have the potential to be a very good starter in the league, he is a work in progress. You can’t take up football two years before entering the NFL and not expect a steep learning curve.
With that in mind, training camp is going to have a different feel for Watson. During his junior year, there were times where Watson looked downright dominant, but other times, particularly in the run game, he looked lost. If he didn’t have a defender head up on him, he wasn’t sure what to do or who to block. Watson looked solid in college in pass protection, but he will also need to learn to account for bull rushes better.
The Raiders have an experienced right tackle in place with Khalif Barnes who was signed as a free agent. However, Barnes is at best a stopgap measure, and I won’t be shocked if Watson is pressed into service and started at right tackle Week 1, ready or not.
Watson does have upside, but if I am a Raiders fan, I’d expect plenty of ups and downs for him this training camp leading right into his rookie season.