Daniel House caught up with Vikings 7th-round draft pick Brandon Watts and learned more about his journey to Minnesota.
Brandon Watts wasn't generating much interest in the NFL. That is until he sprinted a 4.4 at the Georgia Tech pro day- that's when his phone started to ring.
After his workout on March 28th, he knew he had a legitimate to be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. He started receiving calls from teams who wanted to personally meet and spend time with him during the pre-draft process.
"I feel like I helped my draft stock a lot because a lot of people knew I could run, but they didn't know I could run as well as I did," Watts explained. "They never seen me move as well as I moved. It helped out a lot. It really didn't exceed my expectations because I always thought I was a great athlete and I knew I could run," Watts said.
The Vikings were extremely interested in the speed and athleticism Brandon Watts was able to provide on the field. After meeting with the team, he knew they were very interested in selecting him during the NFL Draft.
"I met with Coach Zimmer, Coach Edwards, GM Rick Spielman, and members of the training staff, and a couple other people," Watts stated. "It was all good and I always felt I had a slight chance of coming here. Once I got on the phone with them, I was excited, because when I came on my visit, I had a great time," Watts explained.
Like every NFL player who eagerly awaits for draft day, Watts was ready to find where he would be playing during his first NFL season.
"I just stayed home with the family and my girlfriend and some of my best friends. It helped me keep my mind relaxed," said Watts. "It is a long process. It's every kids dream to play football when they grow up. It was long just sitting there waiting for three full days, but once it finally happened, it was a great day," concluded Watts.
Watts sat through the first two days of the NFL draft, but as the 7th round approached, he eagerly awaited a phone call from a team who was willing to take a chance on him. Finally, pick 223 came along and Watts phone finally rang with the Minnesota area code flashing across his phone.
"It was crazy, I couldn't do nothing but smile. My whole family was screaming and celebrating and they were all just very happy for me because they know all the hard work I have put in trying to become an NFL player. I was just overjoyed," stated Watts.
Brandon Watts is ready to work hard and knows that this is expected with the brand of football the Vikings defense is going to represent.
"I will do as much as I need to do and more [to be the best]. I will do whatever the coaches ask me to do. I came from a small town, where we grew up working hard. Hard work is all I know," proclaimed Watts.
He knows he will have a big role in special teams, but will be ready to be versatile in the event an injury occurs at linebacker.
"I can [play weakside linebacker]," said Watts. "I feel like I can play any position they need me to play. Playing weakside, I'll line up behind the 'three' a lot, and be able to run a good amount. Running is what I do best," stated Watts. "I feel like I can contribute a lot on special teams. I love special teams, so when you love to play it, it kind of helps you at it," Watt explained.
Brandon got his first taste of Minnesota during the Vikings rookie mini-camp, which began on Thursday.
"It felt great, it was a joy to finally be here. I've been waiting since my senior year ended and I was just waiting to see where I would finally end up," said Watts. "Once I got here and got my feet under me, it's been a great ride. I've just been working hard every day just trying to improve at everything and do the best I can do," explained Watts.
"I like it [the state of Minnesota]," said Watts. "I haven't been able to get out too much yet because I don't have a ride yet. It's colder than what I'm used to, but I can adjust well," concluded Watts.
Watts is excited to be working closely with a defensive-minded head coach in Mike Zimmer, along with being coached by Zimmer's son, Adam, at the linebacker position.
"I'm really excited [to work with Mike Zimmer]. I think he is a real fiery coach and he gets the best out of his players and everybody plays hard for him," stated Watts. You can always be excited to play for a coach like that. He knows his stuff, he has a great track record from being a defensive coordinator in the league. He has always had top-five defenses," explained Watts.
"He's the same [Adam Zimmer], he's younger, but he knows his stuff. He's fiery and he gets the best out of me everyday. He's just really knowledgable about what he's talking about. He has the experience and teaches me all the tools I need to be a better linebacker everyday," said Watts.
Mike Zimmer has stressed the importance of rushing the quarterback in the new defensive scheme, which is something Watts looks forward to.
"I'm excited about it [rushing the quarterback]. I'm learning a lot of different positions, but I feel like all the positions I'm learning will help me. I will sit well in the defense, with what they want to do, having athletic linebackers that can run." said Watts.
"I'm looking forward to getting after every quarterback. We've got to get after Aaron Rodgers here in the NFC North. I'm looking forward to getting after all the quarterbacks," stated Watts.
Watts is excited to get to know the fans and can't wait to make them proud each and every Sunday.
"Yeah I am [ready to play for the fans]. I see they have sold out every game since 1998, so that's just a great fanbase. They are a pretty loyal to the team and I'm going to put my best foot forward for them," explained Watts.
When I asked Watts about the one area he would like to pride himself on at the next level, he responded, "Being a great teammate and being willing to do whatever I can do to help the team get better is my goal."
"I'm motivated, I want to compete for a championship for the state of Minnesota," concluded Watts.