Fourth Round, 116th Pick
James Madison’s Earl Watford is a small-school prospect who possesses a ton of upside. He’s the type of player who’ll see significant improvements from the superior coaching he’ll receive in the NFL. The issue is that a team drafting Watford will need to be patient.
However, don’t be surprised if Watford works his way into a starting lineup by his second year in the league.
|+ Athleticism||- Played Against Lower-Level Competition|
|+ Quickness||- Inconsistent Technique|
Height- 6’3” Weight- 300 pounds Arm Length- 34” 40 time- 5.06
Intangibles/Character: James Madison got a committed and aggressive contributor in Watford. He showed a good work ethic and the willingness to take to coaching.
System: Watford is a good enough athlete to fit any system. His quickness off the line and explosive first step gives him the ability to cross the face of the defender and seal him from the play. He also shows the tenacity and raw power to drive defenders off the ball.
Pass-Blocking: The main concern surrounding Watford’s overall game is the consistency of his technique. It’s most noticeable when he’s asked to protect the quarterback. Watford needs to do a better job keeping his pads low and maintaining leverage.
He has a tendency to get upright as the play progresses. This hinders his change of direction, balance and anchor. Watford survived using this technique at James Madison because he went against less talented players. This won’t be the case in the NFL.
Here’s a clip showing Watford with an elevated pad level:
Run-Blocking: Watford boasts the natural strength and explosive first step needed to be an effective run-blocker. As the image below shows, he does a great job getting across the face of the defender and sealing him from the play.
He also plays with a good nasty streak and works to create space off the line of scrimmage. Watford generates this space because he rolls his hips into the defender generating a powerful initial jolt.
His excellent athleticism also helps Watford get out in front on runs to the sideline. This image shows Watford getting out in front and allowing the ball-carrier to pick up a large chunk of yardage.
As mentioned earlier, Watford needs to work on the consistency of his technique. However, it’s obvious that he has really good upside.
Blocking in Space: Most of Watford’s experience came at the guard position which limited the amount of times he truly had to work in space. However, he has the natural athleticism and fluid movements to develop this part of this game.
Hand Fighting: Because of his strong upper hands, Watford features the ability to Velcro to the defender. He put a lot of effort towards getting inside hand placement which is key for an offensive lineman.
Recovery: Watford’s high pad level hinders his ability to recover against both speed and power attacks. It limits his change of direction which makes him susceptible to inside counter moves and leads to issues dealing with defenders who posses lateral quickness. This also makes it difficult to reset his feet after an initial jolt that knocks him off balance.
Improved coaching and commitment to improving his technique could correct most of these issues.
Technique: As I mentioned several times throughout this report, Watford needs to work on keeping his pads down throughout the play. I broke down how this impacts specific parts of his game in the other sections of this report.
Future Role/Versatility: Watford projects as a guard at the next level. However, his athleticism gives him a chance to play some right tackle. Watford’s future all depends on how well he takes to coaching.
Draft Projection: Fifth round