We’re approaching the time of the year when college football is reduced to a garbled language of faux-scientific businessspeak; a pyramid scheme of performance, potential, limitations, and tendencies spouted forth by phalanxes of suited bros who have likely spent less time watching college football than browsing real estate in the past five years. They emerge yearly from their Bowflex chrysalises, shout at the void about MEASURABLES and UPSIDE for a few weeks, then quietly fade back into a mist of Axe body spray.
At the combine, Aggie safety Armani Watts elected to not run the 40-yard dash. WHAT IS HE HIDING? DOES HE LACK HIGH-END BURST? WILL THIS MAKE HIM A DAY THREE BUST? Or perhaps is he injured, and wants to wait until A&M Pro Day in a few weeks, the most logical conclusion? MENTAL TOUGHNESS!
Our erstwhile counsel and resident legal adviser Lucas Jackson has always stuck to this simple mantra when the Draft buzzwords start flying about:
“Is he good at football?”
It’s a very simple question. Almost too simple. And it’s almost always lost in the shuffle of shouted phrases and exposed flaws in the flurry of all the analysts wanting to find that next diamond in the rough or expose that hyped player as overrated.
Is Armani Watts good at football? Very. You don’t start four years in the SEC and not be good at football. Let’s stroll through his official list of “Weaknesses” from NFL.com anyway though.
Lacking ideal size and build
Ahh, yes. The LENTH argument. There is a carefully-calibrated formula in play here that has determined that it’s virtually IMPOSSIBLE for a football player to be good if he is under six feet tall.
Has missed games on three different occasions
Someone fetch the fainting couch! A defensive player has sustained injuries during the course of his career. He got hurt three times in four years as a starter in the SEC. Not exactly an outlier. Most people who have watched him play realize he’s come back into games after suffering injuries that would have sidelined most players.
Too many feast or famine plays
Oooh, the literary imagery has kicked off! This could be said about every defensive player in football. It’s also vague and not quantifiable, just filler for a bulleted list.
Inconsistent and not always trust-worthy in run support
Uhhh, dudes, there were times over the last four years where he was the ONLY run support on the Aggie defense.
Picks and chooses when to square up and tackle with technique
Yeah, it’s called being smart.
Will opt for ankle-diving too frequently
Seriously, you’re not gonna hit TJ Yeldon or Bo Scarborough with your chest voluntarily what is wrong with you
For the last four weaknesses, one or two of his strengths from the list just above the weaknesses on NFL dot com have been pasted as rebuttals of sorts.
Loses leverage in pursuit and overruns the play
Recognizes opportunities to undercut routes and make plays on the ball
Urgency in pursuit is lacking from the backside
Able to blow up screen passes with downhill quickness
Inconsistency at finishing plays costs his defense at times
Slick with ability to dart into crevices and find tackle angles near the line of scrimmage
Gets caught guessing on routes
Anticipates and triggers to make plays outside of his coverage area
Has twitchy burst to break on throws
So basically, he has good range and can make plays on the ball but also overruns the ball while not pursuing fast enough and shows great instincts to blow up plays that he can’t consistently finish. Feed “Urgency in pursuit is lacking” into the NFL Draftspeak translator and you get “LAZY.” No, sirs.
“Twitchy burst” is another one of those garbage phrases that should be fired into the sun. This is football, not a bubble gum commercial from 1987.
With all that said, none of it really matters too much. Watts probably isn’t going in the first round, but he’s definitely going to be drafted. Little of this online analysis will have much of an impact on the teams that have him on their radars. It’s mostly filler noise for the weeks leading up to it. True, there is a big difference between round 2 and round 5 monies, but more than likely one or more teams have already made their minds up and he’s not controversial or inconsistent enough to fall too far down the board despite what the bulleted lists on NFL.com say.
Armani Watts will be fine. He’ll play football professionally for a long time and make lots of fans happy. Football is fun, and he is very good at football.