A native of Manchester, England, Watson trained for much of his life to play basketball and played for the CDA Academy in Spain. From there he was given a scholarship to play basketball for Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he redshirted in 2008-09 and played in 2009-10 as a power forward/center, averaging 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. He was named a team captain despite his less than eye-popping statistics and the fact that he started just 13 out of 29 games for Marist.
Rather than pursue basketball further, Watson considered first boxing before electing to give American football a try, signing on to play alongside (among others) Kyle Long at Saddlebrook Junior College in California. There, his combination of size and athleticism wowed recruitors, some of whom ranked him Watson higher than Long, who himself has impressed NFL scouts and will hear his named called in the 2013 draft as a highly regarded prospect out of the University of Oregon.
Pursued by the likes of Oklahoma, Oregon, Auburn, Cal and Rutgers, Watson elected to sign with Florida State where he emerged as a starter in just his second season of playing the sport. Despite the pleadings of Florida State's coaches, Watson elected to make himself eligible for the 2013 draft after just one season in Tallahassee.
Watson is clearly a work in progress. However, just as clear is his athleticism. It is easy to question Watson's motivation or love for football. Offensive line coaches, however, could just as easily fall in love with his obvious upside and push for the England native surprisingly early on draft weekend.
WEAKNESSES: Raw as they come. Highly inconsistent off the snap. Is just as often the last off the ball as he is the first. Consistently allows his hands to slip outside of his opponents numbers, which will draw flags from NFL officials for holding. Possesses jaw-dropping speed to the second level but doesn't always recognize who to block... Frequently late recognizing stunts and blitzes and reacts poorly, simply whiffing on occasion. Struggles with leverage, especially in short yardage situations and can get knocked backwards... Has jumped from sport to sport in an attempt to find his fit and may lack the passion for the game to ever become great at his craft. Has just two seasons of "American" football under his belt and only one at the the FCS level.
Compares to: Michael Oher, OT, Baltimore Ravens -- Oher is more physical than Watson but the storyline of the "The Blind Side" otherwise could play out with the England native. Blessed with great size and remarkable athleticism, Watson may have a long ways to go before ironing out all of the wrinkles in his game, but he certainly possesses the upside to warrant an early gamble.