We now find ourselves less than three weeks away from the 2011 NFL Draft and as was the case last week, we continue to see things rounding a bit more into form when it comes to draft projections. Our latest 2011 49ers mock draft database shows 23 of the 30 picks being the cornerback position. Patrick Peterson occupies 16 of those slots, while Prince Amukamara slots in for the remaining seven.
The latest mock draft includes a selection we had not seen thus far in the form of Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt. In reviewing a couple of scouting reports (Mocking the Draft, Buffalo Rumblings, Draft Breakdown) he seems to qualify in some spots as a "safe pick." That's not to say he's a bad pick, but he's not quite the upside guy you might expect from other players. Here are two basic summaries. The first is from Draft Breakdown and the second is from Mocking the Draft:
JJ Watt has seen his stock soar after he quietly dominated the combine. Most people assumed he was only an average athlete coming into the combine, and after the combine shot up most draftniks boards. He put together a fairly dominating season at DE for the Badgers, and had his best performances in big games. He is scheme versatile and has the length, strength, athleticism, and hand quickness and ability to disengage from blockers you look for in a 3-4 end, and also the pass rushing abilities of a 4-3 end. Watt ultimately looks to be one of the safer defensive picks in the draft.
The comparison Watt will continue to see is Adam Carriker. The difference between the two, though, is that Watt is more diverse working off the line of scrimmage. He displays a solid array of moves to get into the back field. Has power and quickness, which makes him hard to get a handle on. Has the look of a classic 3-4 defensive end because he has the strength to hold his place on the line. The only thing you have to question about Watt is his technique. As a former tight end at Central Michigan, he can be inconsistent in several areas of his technique.
Is this a guy the 49ers consider at number seven, or more if they were to move down in the first round? It seems like Cal's Cameron Jordan would be a 3-4 end who could provide greater upside, but my I will admit my knowledge of Watt is a bit limited.