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Manchester’s Menelik Watson awaits NFL call
Josh Modaberi catches up with one the draft’s top prospects, Menelik Watson
Unlike Lawrence Okoye who has never played football, Watson started his gridiron career as an offensive tackle at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California before transferring to Florida State University, where he started 12 of 13 games at right tackle last season and only allowed one sack.
“I used to play soccer with my older brother when I was younger and I was always determined to do better than him,” Watson told The American. “I was doing well for my team and even got selected for my county. Things were looking good for me and then when I broke my ankle I thought I was never going to be able to play sports again.
“After the surgery I wasn’t really thinking about sports, but then when I started playing basketball I had more determination than anyone else to do well. If it wasn’t for basketball I probably wouldn’t have left Manchester let alone England.”
The 6'5", 310lb Watson has been tipped for great things. His offensive line coach at FSU, Rick Trickett says “He’s a top five talent in the draft. He’s not going to be picked in the top five, because he hasn’t played enough. If this kid had played high school ball and then two or three years of college it wouldn’t be a contest.”
Watson is keeping his feet on the ground and says the time came where he just needed to get a job.
“For me, it’s not about the money. Coach Trickett knows what I’m about and for me it’s not really about being a top five pick,” the 24-year-old continued. “They key thing for me was finding an occupation — I’m 24 years old, I’ve been in school my whole life and I just thought it was about time I got myself a job, whether that was in football or working at Waitrose.
“I haven’t done anything yet in football. I’ve got goals that I’m trying to accomplish and I’m just scratching the surface. I’m not getting complacent or comfortable because as soon as you start getting comfortable that’s when you stop working. Personally I have learnt not to get too high or to get too low and I’m just working hard on achieving my goals.”
Having moved around quite a bit already in his sporting career, Watson’s not too concerned about his destination.
“I’m not worried where I end up, and talk of being picked in the first round is not a concern of mine,” he added. “What people need to understand is that I’m going to the NFL to do a job. What I did in college in relevant but at the same time irrelevant because the NFL is a totally new level, it’s a different animal.
“I could get caught up in the whole draft process and where I’m going to go but it really doesn’t matter because once I get there I still have to do the job.”
Menelik Watson — Combine notes
Weight: 310 pounds
Arms: 34 inches
40-yard: 5.29 seconds
Vertical Jump: 24.5 inches
Broad Jump: 103.0 inches
The Last Word on the NFL Draft...
The NFL Draft is more than an Insta-grade on Friday morning, or three nights of position picks. The trades... the picks... the talent... the needs fulfilled and unfulfilled. From the first pick to the priority free agents, The American's mid-week post-draft analysis gives you THE WHOLE PICTURE on how your team helped themselves throughout Draft Week. Join us for the First Reaction on Friday to the Full Grades through next week.