Menelik Watson Gets First-Round Grade

Published March 8, 2013
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell

Speaking with scouts from across the NFL has yielded a common refrain: the 2013 draft class lacks top-shelf, elite talent. However, it has good depth in the mid-rounds. That adds up to there not being a lot of clear-cut first-round picks. Teams are instead seeking to use first-round picks on players with big upside. A few days ago, disclosed that Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter was projected by teams to go in the first round; we can now add Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson to that list.

Sources have told that Watson is grading out as a top-32 pick despite only playing one season of big-time college football. He grew up playing basketball in Manchester, England, and ended up at Florida State after playing some junior college football. Watson took the ACC by storm in 2012 and was a dominant blocker. The Seminoles had a lot of success running behind him and he did extremely well in pass protection.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder has quick feet with superb agility for an offensive lineman. He is strong and has the length to remain at tackle in the NFL. Watson's athleticism has led some teams to believe he could make the move to left tackle after some developmental time.

Scouts have told that Watson is a really smart kid and is good on the chalk board. He wowed teams with his football knowledge in the Combine interviews. Even though Watson is a raw talent, it appears that he made a good decision by entering the 2013 NFL Draft.

Sources named the Bears, Bengals, Rams, Colts, Seahawks and Packers as possible landing spots for Watson in the latter half of the first round. He is grading out as a Thursday-night pick since teams are prioritizing upside.

Justin Hunter Generating First-Round Buzz

Published March 6, 2013
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell

Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has been the wideout who has received the most attention leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft. Patterson is the consensus top-rated wide receiver and is expected to go in the top 20 on Draft Day. While he has garnered the most headlines, teammate Justin Hunter is also getting acclaim in scouting circles. spoke with some scouts, including one from a receiver-needy team picking in the back half of the top 32. All believe that Hunter is likely to go in the first round. They said the Combine really helped Hunter with positive reports from his medical check and an excellent 40-yard dash time of 4.44 seconds.

The 6-foot-4, 196-pound Hunter is proving that he is regaining his speed and explosiveness following a 2011 ACL injury. Hunter missed most of that season before playing in every game of 2012. He totaled 73 receptions for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns in an offense that spread the ball around to Hunter, Patterson, Zach Rogers and Mychal Rivera.

Scouts told that they love the upside of Hunter. He has the size to work in the short to intermediate part of the field and speed to get vertical. They like his run-after-the-catch ability as well as his combination of size and speed. Hunter hasn't received a lot of first-round buzz, but one team in the mid 20s said it would be ecstatic if he was on the board for its pick.

Hunter's upside was another reason that scouts felt he was likely to go in the first round. They said in this draft class, players with big upside are very appealing in the late first round rather than those who are deemed safe.

Judging by the sound of the scouts' opinions, Hunter has been underrated nationally and stands a good shot of being a Thursday-night selection.