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NFL Scouting Combine Spotlight: Eric Watts

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NFL Draft prospect, Connecticut defensive lineman Eric Watts runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

This week the annual NFL Scouting Combine is taking place in Indianapolis. A total of 319 draft prospects were invited. The list includes eight prospects from New England schools, who will be featured on Patriots Football Now during the week. The first New England prospects featured play offense (Kiran Amegadjie, Jalen Coker, and C.J. Hanson). Today, a look at a defensive prospect in Eric Watts of the UConn Huskies.

Watts is a fifth-year senior from Sumter, S.C. Following his college career he earned an invitation to the 2024 Senior Bowl. He was joined at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine by UConn teammate Christian Haynes, an offensive guard.

Connecticut Husky

Eric Watts was a four-year starter at UConn. He appeared in 47 of 49 games over his college career. Watts went from a 244-pound freshman in 2019 to a 277-pound senior in 2023. Although the team had limited success (12-37 combined record) Watts still managed to shine. Due to UConn being an independent school for his final three seasons (the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID) he does not have the All-League honors of some others to boast of.

Watts finished his college career with 152 total tackles, including 23 tackles for loss. He also registered 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, recovered a fumble, and blocked three kicks.

The 2022 season was Watts’ best statistically. He had 7.0 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. He gained national attention by playing his best games against the toughest competition. In four games against Michigan, N.C. State, Boston College, and nationally-ranked Liberty, Watts amassed 21 tackles and 6.5 sacks. These performances contributed heavily to him earning postseason invitations in 2023.

NFL Draft

Eric Watts looks like an NFL player. He measured at the NFL Scouting Combine even larger than he was listed for UConn. Watts measured 6-foot-6 and weighed in at 274 pounds. While some prospects cut weight in an attempt to run faster, Watts came in at his playing weight. His frame appears as though he could bulk up even more if a team wanted to move him inside.

Watts was not listed among the Day 1 Prospects Who Impressed, but he certainly did (this profile was already coming). He ran a 4.67 40-yard dash and showcased a 36″ vertical jump. His athleticism is good enough to compete in the National Football League without question. His tape is good, but he excelled against even better competition. That seemed to continue at the combine.

Eric Watts projects to be a Day 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. His stature and athleticism alone will entice an NFL team to select him in April. If he can showcase his 2022 form in training camp, Watts should have an NFL career ahead of him.

Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports, MLB.com, and many other outlets.

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