BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 08: Offensive lineman Menelik Watson #71 of the Florida State Seminoles blocks defensive end James Gayle #99 of the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on November 8, 2012 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson is a native of Manchester, England and came to the United States to pursue basketball. After a brief stint as a boxer, Watson decided to play football for Saddlebrook Junior College in California. He transferred to Florida State in 2012, and after just two years playing the sport, Watson declared for the 2013 NFL Draft.
If Watson had more experience, he could potentially be the top offensive tackle in this class. He’s a big, strong player, using his 6-5, 310-pound frame to drive defenders off of the ball. Watson’s 34-inch arms are plenty long enough to play offensive tackle.
Watson is a natural athlete who appears light on his feet. He drops into pass protection with ease and displays excellent balance almost all of the time. He’s a knee-bender and uses his superior athleticism to mirror defenders rather easily.
In the running game, Watson has the strength to consistently win at the point. He can be devastating in short-yardage situations, rarely getting pushed into the backfield. Watson is also nimble enough to work well in space, excelling when asked to move to the second level.
Watson’s biggest weakness is obviously a lack of experience. He’s very raw, often using his athleticism instead of proper technique to block defenders. He’s played only two years of football, so there will be a learning curve. Due to his inexperience, Watson played right tackle at Florida State.
NFL Comparison: Tyron Smith
Smith was clearly a more polished offensive tackle coming out of USC, but both players are prototypical left tackles who played the right side in college. Like Smith, Watson has a unique blend of finesse and power.
Watson is an intriguing prospect because his talent is undeniable but he’s so new to the game. There’s no way he’ll make it out of the second round, and I actually think he’ll get selected near the back of the first. Offensive tackles always rise on draft day, especially ones with elite upside. Watson could battle Alabama’s D.J. Fluker to be the fourth offensive tackle off of the board.
Fit In Dallas
If the Cowboys want Watson, they’d probably need to either use their first-rounder on him or trade up from the second. That alone might make the selection unlikely, but I think Watson would step in as an immediate upgrade over Doug Free at right tackle. If Watson’s inexperience causes him to drop to the ‘Boys in the second, he’d be a steal in that range.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.