Notre Dame left guard Chris Watt has the athleticism and ability to move that tends to come with Irish offensive linemen over the past several years, but he seems to bring the mean streak to the group. He has certainly been able to pass block and be effective in that role, but he seems to relish just working downhill and being able to beat up the opponent, which has been something Notre Dame has needed. They have used elements of both zone and gap blocking with Watt being able to impress in both.
For the NFL, Watt is a technically sound, athletic lineman that offers a team versatility. He would have more value as a left guard and looks like he should be able to do that job in the NFL, but he could play right guard in a zone scheme as well. Watt is a more effective run blocker at this point, but does shows ability to protect the quarterback in pass pro as well. Watt probably warrants a day two pick but the depth of this draft might push him to being a fringe top 100 pick, but if he is not starting as a rookie, it probably will not be long before he finds himself in a team’s starting lineup.
Vitals & Build
Watt measured 6’3” 310lbs at the scouting combine with 32 ¾” arms. He shows a good amount of raw strength, but really seems to help himself with being able to maximize it with technique. Watt does not carry a ton of weight around his midsection and he appears to still have room on his frame to continue adding strength while maintaining his athleticism.
Watt certainly has above average athleticism. He is able to do everything they need him to do in terms of movement skills and not really look awkward doing it. Watt is also able to put himself in good positions to succeed and win at the point of attack when he is asked to move and is not forced to lunge or make up with desperate moves to make blocks.
Watt seems to be at his best and most comfortable when he can just attack, get downhill and run block. He is aggressive, gets right after the opponent and was able to consistently create space on the left side.
Once Watt engages, he does a great job of continuing to drive his legs and is able to push opponents down the field. He plays with a mean streak and seems to get an extra shot as the whistle blows whenever he possibly can. Watt has shown the ability to finish and get pancake blocks up front, getting behind his pads and getting the most of his strength.
Watt is able to get to the second level effectively, goes forward well and adjusts well to hitting a moving target. He does not make the mistake of lunging at the opponent and just looks to make contact, trusting in his power and length to ensure he does the job. Watt certainly has the ability to pull and move laterally as well, though it does not as good as when he attacks forward.
Watt does a pretty good job with his hand placement and getting that initial punch, allowing him to control opponents and push them in the direction he wants. The payoff is there are a lot of plays where Watt does not work as hard as opponents take themselves out of the play, but he can also have a lot of success moving them out of the play and getting his body in between them and the ball.
The times Watt will occasionally have issues are in situations when he cannot keep his legs under him and gets overextended. Opponents will have some success getting him off balance and falling forward, which has Watt ending up on the ground a little too much.
For the most part, Watt is able to consistently get push and is a fundamentally strong run blocker who should be able to continue getting better at the next level.
Watt is not as strong in pass protection, but he is solid in that area. He moves well enough, delivers a nice punch and is able to get control of opponents early, making it so he can take momentum away early and take them out of the play.
Watt seems to like to throw an initial punch, then come back and grab onto their chest and take control from there. When he can land that initial punch and slow them down before they get started, he simply takes control and effectively takes them out of the play. If he is unable to land that punch or is unsure of what he is reading and hesitates to throw it, he can run into some issues.
If he misses the punch, he is in a position where he can be heavy in his set and opens the door for opponents to work outside of him, occasionally giving him trouble in his ability to recover and get control. In the situations where he hesitates, he can slide and wait until he gets a good shot and then take it from there.
Watt moves effectively enough laterally, but he can get high at times, can overset his stance, and have some issues with quickness. He is extremely effectively at taking on and dealing with power. Watt does a really nice job of re-anchoring, getting his weight down and taking away that option.
He tends to have more issues with quickness and it just seems to take him out of his comfort zone. More experience will help him and should equip him with the tools to get better, but if he is going to get beat, it is with speed and quickness.
Watt does a nice job keeping his head on a swivel and allowing opponents to come to him, holding his water. Nevertheless, when Watt does not have anyone coming, he will almost always find a guy on a block he can help with and give them a shot or simply level them from the side. It seems to be something he makes a point of doing whenever the opportunity arises and he will put guys on the ground as a result.
For the most part, Watt seems to do a really nice job with his technique. He has a nice punch, can use his hands effectively for the most part and does a nice job maximizing his strength in the running game.
The issues that will sometimes pop up come down to reducing the amount of times he misses his initial punch in pass protection, which is not that often as it is. He can occasionally get too wide with where he locks onto to the opponent, risking a holding call.
His ability to move laterally is effective, but it can continue to improve. The better he can get at avoiding situations where he oversets and gives up an outside lane, the better he will be.
He does a really nice job of settling and hitting moving targets. The times he misses usually happen because the opponent is going around him and out of the play in the process. Watt is really effective going forward.
Watt is a scheme diverse player who seems able to contribute in either scheme. He might have be better suited as a left guard in a zone scheme but he could play left or right guard there. Zone would allow Martin to use his range and athleticism more while still offering the ability to line it up and go downhill in the running game. Watt also appears capable of playing left guard in a gap scheme and could be an attractive option there as well.
It is possible that Watt could start out his first year as depth, especially if he is being added to a really talented group, but he seems to have the talent to contribute early for a team if needed. It is difficult to imagine he will not get the opportunity to start somewhere in his career and if he can keep getting better, he could be a mainstay on a unit for an extended period of time.
Watt has some similarities to Jon Asamoah, now of the Atlanta Falcons. Asamoah was a third round pick in 2010 from Illinois and had the ability to be a good pass protector, but was a good road grading guard as well. Asamoah played four years for the Kansas City Chiefs and helped power their running offense before going to the Falcons in free agency.
Chris Watt just seems to be a good guard. He is not overly flashy, does his job and brings a little added element of tenacity that brings an element of mean that the Notre Dame offense needed. Watt is better as a run blocker but shows a lot of talent in pass protection and should be able to improve at both. He warrants being a top 100 pick but might just slide out of that range because of the talent of this class. Watt should find a way into a team’s starting five sooner than later.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com