The Vikings continued their Day 3 run on defensive players by selecting Georgia Tech linebacker Brandon Watts in the seventh round – yet another athletic player with upside that head coach Mike Zimmer and his staff will give every opportunity to make the final roster.
Watts was expecting to go higher than he did and the wait was a source of frustration.
"It was pretty frustrating, especially when you played against some of these people and you know you are a better player than them," Watts said. "But you can't let it get to you. I feel like God put me in the best situation that he wanted me in and I'm moving forward from there."
Watts played both inside and outside for the Yellow Jackets and he views that experience as a positive in his favor. However, he was told the Vikings have a pretty specific plan where they want to put him and where they anticipate him fighting for a roster spot.
"They told me they like the versatility that I bring to the table," Watts said, who played both inside and outside linebacker for Georgia Tech. "They're looking at me at Will – the weak side linebacker – so I can line behind the three-technique and I can run a lot."
One of the positives working in his favor is that the Vikings have a need at linebacker. With Chad Greenway and first-round rookie Anthony Barr the only players assured of roster spots among the current outside linebacker, Watts sees the competition as wide open and he plans to make the most of his opportunities when they present themselves.
"I feel I can step in," Watts said. "I bring a lot of athleticism and instincts to getting to the ball. I can bring a lot to the team – special teams or anything they need. I feel like I can step in and contribute right away."
Watts is excited about playing for Zimmer because he spent time following the Cincinnati Bengals when Zim was their defensive coordinator. Another GT defensive player was groomed under Zimmer and became a star in the NFL, who cashed in on the free agent market in March.
"We had Michael Johnson at Georgia Tech and he played for (Zimmer) with the Bengals," Watts said. "He always had a good defense when he was with the Bengals, so I heard he was a pretty good coach."
With so many new coaches and players hitting the practice field at Winter Park, a player like Watts views the unique situation as something that can play to his advantage. With everyone starting fresh, a hidden advantage for veterans is gone and everyone will be judged on a level playing field.
"It's going to be a new place for all of us," Watts said. "With a lot of new players on defense, it will help you adjust better and work harder because you have people just like you. You try to get after it and contribute to the team."
He came off the board much later than he thought or hoped he would, but Watts believes the key is that, after an endurance-sapping test of draft weekend, he has found a home and wants to be a part of the Vikings rise back to prominence in the NFC.
"It's been a long process," Watts said. "I'm just ready to get to work. I'm really looking forward to being a Minnesota Viking and come there and contribute and try to get them to the Super Bowl."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Draft wait frustrated Watt
Viking Update Top Stories
Pass protection fails Bradford, VikingsThe Minnesota Vikings still haven’t been able to solve their offensive line issues, a theme going back to last year, but Mike Zimmer and the players aren’t denying it. They have to…
Viking Update5:23 PM
Notebook: Bradford-Wentz duel fizzlesSunday's game between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles was supposed to be a marquee battle of quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz. Instead, it was a long day…
Viking Update3:39 PM
Vikings record-seekers vs. EaglesThe Minnesota Vikings’ loss was littered with mistakes, but a few players worked their way up in the franchise record book.
Viking Update3:14 PM
WATCH: Vikings vs. Eagles highlightsHighlights, or really lowlights for Minnesota Vikings fans, as they drop their first game of the season, 21-10, to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Viking Update2:57 PM