Linebacker Tre Watson transferred to Maryland from Illinois for his final collegiate season and quickly became a crucial part of the Terps’ defense. The Tampa, Florida, native led the Big Ten in interceptions and tackles per game, but somehow didn’t get an NFL combine invite.
While the combine snub put Watson at a disadvantage, he’s widely projected to be drafted, but he’ll have to wait to see where exactly the cards will fall.
With the draft just a few days away, let’s take an in-depth look at Watson’s pro outlook. We’ll be profiling several of Maryland’s potential draftees in the coming days.
40-yard dash: 4.73 - 4.75
Watson didn’t attend the NFL combine, and his other pro day numbers haven’t been widely reported.
What an NFL team is getting
With Watson, an NFL team is getting a versatile, hungry player that has a high football IQ and a huge impact on the field.
There’s no hesitation with Watson, always looking to make big plays, whether that be tackles, pass blocks, interceptions or the occasional sack. Watson led the Big Ten with 9.6 tackles per game and five interceptions, beating out top NFL prospects Devin Bush (Michigan), T.J. Edwards (Wisconsin) and Amani Hooker (Iowa).
At Maryland, Watson consistently came up clutch in big moments, and he’ll look to do the same for whatever NFL team drafts him. Against No. 23-ranked Texas on Sept. 1, Watson picked off a pass in the fourth quarter, in addition to nine tackles, to lead the Terps to a 34-29 upset.
TRE WATSON WITH THE INTERCEPTION. TERPS BALL. 6:09 LEFT. pic.twitter.com/z16bkHduHB— Jared Goldstein (@_jgoldy17) September 1, 2018
And even in upsetting losses, Watson was a constant plus. His two best tackling games of the season, both with a team-high 15 tackles, came in an upset 35-14 loss against Temple and a 23-0 blowout loss to Iowa — during which he also had an interception. This ability to perform at such a high rate when the rest of his team is struggling will be a huge asset in the NFL.
Tre Watson is putting on a show. He's up to 11 tackles, including this one on third down. pic.twitter.com/ZZWGqvflx1— Justin Fitzgerald (@jfitzgerald52) October 20, 2018
While his gameplay alone is impressive, another thing that stands out about Watson is his ability to adapt and succeed under unforeseen circumstances. Unlike most rookies, Watson isn’t likely to be affected by personnel changes or other scandals because he’s already been through the ringer. He’s had nine different coaches in nine years of high school and college football, and also had to deal with the death of teammate Jordan McNair at Maryland. None of it slowed his game.
Watson has had reported pre-draft visits with the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The linebacker is currently projected to go anywhere from the fourth to seventh round, but of course, aren’t many seven-round mock drafts. Of the few available, NFL.com’s Chad Reuter has Watson going in the sixth round as the 191st overall pick and Draft Wire (USA Today) has Watson at 135th overall in the fourth round. On CBS’ seven-round breakdown for each NFL team, Watson is projected in the fourth round as the 134th overall pick.