Entering the 2014 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings aimed to add depth a number of different positions. Aside from quarterback, the Vikings were in dire need of adding depth at the linebacker position. After drafting former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr in the first round, the Vikings again addressed the linebacker position in the 7th round in the form of former Georgia Tech linebacker Brandon Watts.
After having a terrible season defensively, new head coach Mike Zimmer knew it was necessary to address defense as much as possible throughout free agency and the NFL Draft. In Watts, the Vikings received an incredible athlete who simply needs to develop his football skills, making him an ideal pupil for Zimmer.
The 6-foot-2, 232 pound Watts possesses prototypical size and above average athleticism for the linebacker position. At his pro-day, Watts ran a very impressive 4.41-forty yard dash, making it understandable that he has spent time as a defensive back as well as a linebacker.
During his senior year at Georgia Tech, Watts recorded 66 tackles, 2.5 sacks, an interception, and also a forced fumble. While Watts is certainly a work in progress in terms of becoming a linebacker, he has great athleticism, which allows him great range against the run and above average coverage skills. However, In order to become a full-time NFL starter, he will need to add bulk and improve his recognition and tackling skills.
While Watts unlikely will become a starter during the 2014 NFL season, there is a strong chance he will make the 53-man roster and see playing time. The Vikings have a very weak core group of linebackers, which will allow him every opportunity to compete for a spot on the roster. During OTAs and training camp, Watts will compete Gerald Hodges, Larry Dean and Dom DeCicco for a spot on the roster. However, he may already have an inside track, as he and Hodges have seen time in the Vikings’ new nickel package during OTAs.
In a worst-case scenario, Watts will end up on the Vikings’ practice squad in order to gain more experience and improve his football skills. However, given the Vikings’ desperate need for linebacker depth and talent, it is very possible that Watts could not only make the team, but also gain playing time over the course of the season. Watts is a supreme athlete, and his athleticism should be on full display throughout the summer.