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Crabbs | Armani Watts a high quality Safety option

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Scouting Notes

Crabbs | Armani Watts a high quality Safety option

When I initially wrote about Armani Watts for Fanrag Sports back in October, I had thought I’d come across a sleeper to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft. Fate had different plans, as Watts suffered a knee injury against Ole Miss and didn’t play the rest of the year before declaring his intent to return for the 2017 season. Watts was showcased today for NDT Premium subscribers but there’s too much enticing film here to gloss over without further inspection.

Some of Watts’ best hits from 2015 are notable, as they show the versatility and different ways that Watts influences ball support and tackling.

For a player listed at sub 6′ and right on 200 lbs, this is some impressive pop in the pads. And while Watts didn’t show the same level of consistency with his pursuit angles as a space defender in 2016, there’s still ample examples of quality run support and a hot running motor. The end result? Watts will enter his senior season as one of the better run defending safeties in the country. The play below vs. Mississippi State is a good indicator of how important Watts can be as a run defender.

This may seem like a pretty innocent play, but note that this is a long down and distance situation. Watts has been tasked with coverage to a deeper portion of the field, but is still quick to process the run and drive forward. An aggressive fill and a clean tackle in space result a marginal gain and put the Bulldogs in a third and long.

That level of transitional quickness and mental processing is vital to having range against the run, which Watts clearly possesses.

Here is another strong fill playing forward but now Watts is diagnosing as a deeper middle defender with 11 yards of depth at the snap. Trusting keys is paramount, as if Watts is too slow to play forward this run can get into the boundary and break for a big play since the play-side end jumps inside and gives the back the edge. Instead, Watts takes a nice forward angle and stays shadowed over top of the back, allowing him to peel back on the cut inside and finish the tackle in space.

While Watts makes most of his waves as a run defender, he shouldn’t be sold short in pass coverage either. The same quick mental processing and transitional quickness shows up in off coverage situations as well.

Watts drives hard out of a flat footed read with a strong angle and is able to disrupt the receiver as the ball arrives. Also notable on the rep? How hard Watts jars the receiver with his pads; able to build up a lot of power in a short amount of distance. But Watts’ biggest play against the pass all year was the clinching interception in overtime against the same team, the Tennessee Volunteers.

Tennessee attempts to flood the left side of the field with motion and multiple vertical stems. But Watts’ eyes are in the right spot as an overhead defender: the backfield. As Quarterback Josh Dobbs cocks his arm to throw (off his back foot, none the less), Watts peels off of his landmark as a divider between the steps and works towards the target.

As the ball sails inaccurately to the right, Watts is able to secure and finish both the play and the game.

This is a prospect that can influence the run and the pass in a positive light. Watts should be regarded as a quality prospect and warrant a lot of attention throughout the Aggies’ season.

RELATED: NDT Premium | Armani Watts Senior Assessment

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Kyle Crabbs

Kyle Crabbs is the founder/Director of Scouting of NDT Scouting Services, a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the lead NFL Draft analyst for the FanRag Sports Network.

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