The Jacksonville Jaguars were exceedingly active in free agency this offseason thanks to an envious amount of cap space. General manager David Caldwell has done a good job of trimming the fat and taking care of some financial burdens imposed on the franchise by former general manager Gene Smith. After hitting on some key free agent acquisitions in 2013 – Sen’Derrick Marks and Alan Ball being the two most prominent – it’s time to see if any players from this free agent class can be as successful going forward.
Today we break down a player who provides some much needed speed on defense – linebacker Dekoda Watson.
Drafted in the seventh round by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers, Watson has played sparingly since 2010. A bit undersized for his position, Watson was an intriguing prospect coming out of Florida State due to his speed and overall athleticism. Here’s a look at his first four years statistically, with Pro Football Focus grades in the last 4 columns.
|Year||Snaps||Tkls||QB Hurry||QB Hit||QB Sack||Miss. Tkls.||Coverage||Pass Rush||Run Def.||Overall|
Dec 8, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Dekoda Watson (56) against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Watson didn’t break into the lineup until halfway through his rookie season, and he’s been a sub-package player since. Watson dropped into coverage often and his +3.3 grade in that category seems to indicate some competency in that area. Watson was also thought of as a player who could use his speed on the edge to rush the passer, and he’s had some success in that respect as well.
Ultimately, Watson is in every sense an upside signing. He’s had very little playing time since coming into the league, and it’s up to head coach Gus Bradley and his staff to determine why he hasn’t played more and what else they can get out of him. He appears to be a nice fit at outside linebacker and can occasionally rush from the LEO spot. His elite speed is a nice resource on a defense that looked very slow and had problems getting to the quarterback in 2013.
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