Hometown: Dallas, Texas
High School: Bishop Dunne
Key Offers: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Stanford, Texas
Nick Watkins' ratings are clearly elite by all accounts. However, in the context of his offer list, the ratings do seem just a tad low in some cases. That notwithstanding, Nick Watkins will likely be a consensus top-15 prospect at the highly coveted position of cornerback when all is said and done – a ranking that is well deserved based on his measurables and video.
Nick Watkins is a cornerback with great speed and ball skills as evidenced by both his offensive and defensive play. When on offense, the shear number of fades thrown to him exemplifies the great confidence that his ball skills have commanded from his coaches. He naturally locates the ball in the air and easily makes adjustments to its flight path. Underthrown balls are not an issue, as Watkins quickly slows his forward momentum, turns his shoulders to the appropriate side and reels in the football. Watkins' hands are impressive and he looks comfortable catching the ball inside and outside of his frame on both offense and defense. More impressive yet is his ability to high-point the ball. Given his long arms, his mastery of catching the ball at its highest point will scare quarterbacks away from throwing fades due to the interception threat. Thus, Watkins will be extremely valuable as a defender in red-zone situations at the college level.
Watkins is a long-limbed corner who has fairly long strides, but the strides aren't so long as to raise any serious concern about acceleration or change of direction. He flashes some quickness in his interception returns, punt returns and offensive highlights. For deep routes, Watkins possesses the speed to match up with receivers on the college level. He has a smooth gait, which, when observed outside of the context of his running by people, may cause his speed to be underestimated.
As the son of a former NFL player, he is predictably savvy in coverage and has a good feel for the game. Watkins is already very good, even better than some college cornerbacks, at playing zone coverage in the flat. He has good feet which keep him in proper position to reroute receivers. Once that is accomplished, he knows to play deep-to-short in his zone, which means taking away the deeper out and corner routes, and then planting and breaking when the ball is thrown to the flat. In his sophomore and junior video, Watkins makes some punishing hits on receivers in the flat, showing strong physicality that can be easily overlooked given the other "prettier" aspects of his game.
Though his primary position is cornerback, Watkins could also be a very good wide receiver on the college level. His 6-foot-1 height combined with his ball skills could cause trouble for opponents in the red zone offensively, just as those same attributes would do on the defensive side of the ball. Further, outside of the red zone, he shows he has the capability to run by defenders, hinting that he could be a big-play wide receiver if asked to moonlight on offense.
Nonetheless, Nick Watkins projects to be the prototypical big corner that is a huge asset to any defense. He has an elite skill set that should allow him to succeed in any number of defensive schemes when he begins his college career.
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