PFF scouting report: Carlos Watkins, Edge, Clemson
Name: Carlos Watkins
Position fit: 3-technique
Stats to know: One of only four FBS defensive linemen with at least 40 combined pressures and 35 defensive stops in 2016.
What he does best:
- Good change of direction, able to redirect to make plays in the backfield.
- Takes good angles from the backside showing impressive athleticism to track plays down, good lateral athleticism.
- Excellent power rusher, explodes on contact with good leverage to generate vertical movement.
- Good hand placement/arm usage to disengage when rushing the passer.
- Generated a ton of pressure on stunts, shows good patience and awareness.
- Not just a flat track bully, beat NFL prospect Pat Elflein for a couple knockdowns vs OSU.
- Relishes big games, enjoyed his best form in the postseason.
- Impressive instincts, able to sift through misdirection to find the ball.
- Awareness shows up in all facets of the game, uses his eyes effectively to track quarterback movement as well as find passing lanes.
- Had five batted passes in 2016, tied for fourth among interior defensive linemen.
- Inconsistent motor.
- Struggles to hold the point of attack on the playside vs. run.
- Lacks variety as a pass-rusher, majority of pressure generated using either a bull rush or unblocked/clean up.
- Flashes dominance, but rarely on a consistent basis.
- One-year wonder? Enjoyed a significant boost in production as a senior.
Player comparison: Stephon Tuitt, Pittsburgh Steelers
Watkins’ game resembles that of the Steelers’ Stephon Tuitt in a number of ways. Like the latter, the Clemson product uses every inch of his 34.5-inch arms to win on first contact, freeing his frame to make plays sideline to sideline. That length is also essential to Watkins’ success as a pass-rusher, enabling him to drive blockers deep into the backfield using the bull rush. Although he played 3-technique at Clemson, there is every reason to believe Watkins has the skillset to also play the 5-, in a role similar to Tuitt’s in Pittsburgh.
Bottom line: Watkins’ performance down the stretch was one of the understated reasons for Clemson’s National Championship. He was a key part of one of the best fronts in the FBS. The 12 sacks are indicative of a dominant pass-rushing skillset, but anticipation and awareness were more significant in Watkins’ impressive statistics. That said, collapsing the pocket from every angle is a priority in the modern NFL, and Watkins is an expert at depositing offensive lineman deep into the backfield. He can be inconsistent defending the run, particularly on the frontside, but is a generally disruptive force against opposing ground games.