NAME: Armon Watts
POSITION: Interior Defensive Lineman
JERSEY: No. 90
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 309 lbs
Get-off/Burst – Consistently late off the ball. Won’t threaten with speed which can make him easier to block for offensive linemen who can match his technique and power. Lack of explosiveness limits gap-shooting ability, but once he gets going he does have a little pep in his second and third steps to work to blocker’s edge.
Leverage – Outstanding leverage at the point of attack. Comes off the ball low and holds his ground with a wide base while digging up underneath his opponent’s pads. Can lean into a gap and hold the point or stack base blocks and control the line of scrimmage. Extremely difficult to move 1v1 and even by double teams due to strength and leverage, just not much surface area to grip up.
Hand Usage – Impressive hand usage to dominate the line of scrimmage against vertical blocking schemes. Almost never displaced, winning first contact despite being slow off the ball. Fires his hands inside and has tons of examples of rag-dolling his opponent aside or re-setting the line of scrimmage a yard or two deep. Grown man strength. Sudden hands as a rusher seems to surprise opponents lulled to sleep by his get-off.
Rush Plan/Counters – For a one-year starter/contributor, pretty advanced understanding of how to win 1v1 with a legit rush plan off the snap. Long arms, bull rushes, rip moves and swats are frequent. Will rush head up and work to his opponent’s edge with a combination, often opting for bull-to-rip or a 2-hand swat to rip. Swivels his shoulders to reduce surface area for linemen to land their hands. Lack of explosiveness and quick change-of-direction often keep him from hitting counters quickly, which can lead to his rush plan stalling out if his first move doesn’t work.
Mental Processing/Block Recognition – Another area of his game that is surprisingly advanced. When his guard pulled, felt the down block coming and consistently attacked the center. Reads his keys well and has good vision to find the football through trash. Stacked up doubles teams and was rarely caught unaware. ID’ed zone schemes really well, stepping laterally with his opponent and refusing to be reached.
Range – Despite ability to win the line of scrimmage, lacks the explosiveness or the long speed to make a lot of plays in the backfield. Not a gap shooter and won’t run well, doesn’t have the wheels to track down runners in space. Change-of-direction is a mile-an-hour.
Bend/Flexibility – Gets a little deep and can struggle to turn tight corners through contact due to some lower body stiffness. Does swivel his hips away from punches and plays with good knee bend to win leverage battles in 1v1 exchanges.
Tackling – Easier to escape his tackle radius than more mobile defensive tackles, can’t always laterally re-direct and finish in space. If he grips you up, you’re going down though. Strength to get runners to the ground and targets the football as a pass rusher (3 forced fumbles).
Competitive Toughness – Super physical in the trenches, but when the ball goes outside the box it is like you unplug his controller – effort just dies. Zero hustle in pursuit. Weird. In terms of doing his job though, effort is consistently excellent and doesn’t take rush downs off. Teammates praise his work ethic.
Athleticism/Size – Size, length and build are terrific for an interior defensive lineman. Has the girth and length to be able to hold the point of attack, yet still doesn’t carry any bad weight. Average athlete who probably won’t test great.
BEST TRAIT – Hand Usage/Leverage
WORST TRAIT – Burst/Athleticism
RED FLAGS – None
It took four years to see the field at Arkansas, but when Armon Watts finally did, he went from complete unknown to a legitimate draftable prospect. His seven sacks as a senior wasn’t just an impressive number on paper, as Watts was an absolute force as a pass rusher, using a deep arsenal of moves and eye-popping power to bully his way into 1v1 wins.
He’s not an elite athlete and he won’t be explosive enough to be a gap-shooter in the NFL, but Watts can play any inside technique, has the length and technique to eat up blocks at the point of attack and is a legit pass rush threat on long/late downs. He will never be a dominant player in the NFL, but his skill set suggests a top-tier depth player or solid starter/rotational piece who might even get better with more playing time. I’d target Watts in the mid-rounds for teams looking for interior defensive line help.