Draft Profile: Gabe Watson

GoBlueWolverine's Josh Turel breaks down the draft prospects of this year's departing Wolverines. The focus of this report is DT Gabe Watson.

Gabe Watson
Defensive Tackle/Nose Guard
4th Year Senior
6’3 1/2, 335

Testing: NFL Combine
5.2 Forty Yard Dash
36 Bench Reps

Testing: Michigan Pro Day
26 ½ -inch Vertical
8 ft 6 in. Broad Jump

Watson possesses a very large body and massive strength for the interior. When he is giving maximum effort, he may be the best defensive tackle in this class. He can be absolutely dominant at times. When he isn’t tired, Watson can even break through double teams. He plays with good leverage when fresh and is a rock to move at times, which allows him to jam up running lanes. Watson is also a powerful tackler with a long wingspan. The 335-pounder is a surprisingly good athlete for his size, showing both lateral quickness and closing speed. He is a power pass rusher that can collapse the pocket.

Watson has no real injury history and has the potential to be an elite player.

Watson is an absolute enigma when it comes to effort and consistency. Coaches struggled with keeping him motivated and he didn’t start a few games early in the season in an attempt to push him. He was extremely inconsistent in Senior Bowl practices. One day he would dominate, the next he was very sloppy. He sometimes fades in games and seems to save his energy in the second half. He also plays down to the level of his competition and doesn’t dominate like he should. He sometimes gets lazy and stands up off the snap, allowing his opponents get a leverage advantage. His weight fluctuates a lot and he has had a hard time keeping it under control. He will need to get in better shape to handle an NFL season.

Watson is a first round talent, and a number of teams are contemplating taking him that high, but there are too many questions about him to call him a lock to go in the first 32 picks. Scouts love his natural strength, agility, and dominant streaks, but they also seriously question his effort and consistency. Those issues will likely lead teams to question his ability to play nose guard in a long NFL season.

Whether in a two gap 4-3 or at nose guard in a 3-4, Watson offers versatility. Some teams may stay away while others may see a Shaun Rogers clone. The Detroit Lions All-Pro had the same issues coming out of the University of Texas.

Most teams I have spoken to have him in the early to middle of round two, with some having him in the early stages of round three. He won’t be a complete bust because of his natural ability, but he may not be a productive starter if he doesn’t up his effort. It only takes one team to like you, which could spell good news for Watson. If a team thinks they can push him to be the type of player he is capable of, they could get a real steal in Watson.

Draft Stock:
Late 1st to Mid 2nd

NFL Comparisons:
Randy Starks-Tennessee Titans
Shaun Rogers-Detroit Lions
Ryan Sims-Kansas City Chiefs

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