Top 50 Patriots Prospects: #46: Nathaniel Watson, LB Miss St.

Image courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics

Watson is an intriguing prospect who can play MIKE or SAM linebacker in various defensive packages. He was the 2023 SEC Defensive Player of the Year finishing with 137 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 PBUs and an interception. He did all of this in 12 games last season.

Watson’s scheme versatility and ability to play defense make him an intriguing option for the Patriots on day three.

Here is our scouting report on Nate Watson.

Nathaniel Watson, 6-2 233, LB, Miss St. 

Vs. Inside Run: Physical. Watson diagnoses line movement and running back flow quickly and attacks ball carriers. Plays with good pad leverage and finishes plays on contact.

Vs. Outside Run: Moves well laterally and can navigate through blocks and get over the top on outside run plays. Plays square to the ball and has the speed and athleticism to get outside.

Blitz/Pass Rush: Times blitzes well and is explosive. Better off the edge where he has more space to work with. Rushes with hood bend and lean but tends to come in high on inside pressures .

Key & Diagnose: Plays with good anticipation and reads flow well. Watson doesn’t get stuck on misdirection or counter plays. Sees ball and attacks ball.

Lateral Pursuit: Moves well laterally in his pursuit angles but he lacks that second gear to close once the ball is in the third level.

Tackling: Physical tackler who does a good job finishing on contact but needs to tackle lower and bring his pads. Tends to lunge at times and misses when he goes low.

Pass Drop/ Pass Coverage: Watson has clean hips and gains ground in zone coverage. He does a good job of squaring up routes in his zone and matching up. Runs well enough that he can match up underneath in man coverage.

Final Report: I see a lot of Ja’Whaun Bentley in Watson’s game. He is a big, rangy inside linebacker who reads flow and attacks the ball. He would be a terrific late day three value and a good scheme fit for the Patriots. His college production is off the charts. Watson had a Top 30 visit with the team.