Browns sixth-round pick is ready for a role during rookie campaign

Nathaniel Watson is an old-school LB with a lot to offer the Browns defense
Nathaniel Watson, Cleveland Browns
Nathaniel Watson, Cleveland Browns / Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry did an excellent job ensuring the team had 11 starters on each side of the ball they felt good about starting before entering the 2024 NFL Draft. Doing so meant he could focus solely on his draft board, rather than allowing need to take precedence at any point.

The result is a strong class (despite being without a pick in Round 1) with value at each pick. That includes the late rounds where they added players such as receiver Jamari Thrash, cornerback Myles Harden, and linebacker Nathaniel Watson.

Watson, a product of Mississippi State, was taken at No. 206 overall in the sixth round and while Harden and Thrash have gotten attention from analysts, the old-school linebacker should also have plenty of eyes on him.

Known for his skill as a run-stuffer and pass-rusher, Watson recorded 377 tackles (35 for a loss) and had 21 sacks in his career. His final campaign saw him rack up 137 tackles and 10 sacks. Now in Cleveland, he stood out during Rookie Minicamp due mostly to his size. Watson stands 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds but as Lance Reisland of says, he looks much larger than that.

Despite the success he had in the SEC, teams were concerned Watson couldn't be a three-down player in the NFL. He struggled in pass coverage but the solution there is to keep him out of coverage. Instead, Watson should be used in short-yardage situations and on early downs. If he is on the field during passing situations, he can still be effective as long as he's allowed to go after the quarterback.

Thankfully, Cleveland has one of the best defensive coordinators in the league — Jim Schwartz. The reigning NFL Assistant Coach of the Year will have no issues putting Watson in a position to succeed. And given his ability to make impact plays — especially against the run — he should get that chance early in his career.

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