Daniel House catches up with linebacker Brandon Watts and finds out how he has progressed since the OTA sessions in June.
Updated: August 1st, 2014 1:41pm
By: Daniel House
The Vikings drafted linebacker Brandon Watts in the seventh round of the NFL draft back in May and since then, Mike Zimmer has been scheming ways to use Watts' athletic skill-set. Watts has been seeing time in the base defense with the second-team and the coaching staff appears to be searching for the right mix at the linebacker position. Watts is excited to get out on the field, to let his athletic skill-set shine through.
"[Training camp] has been good. It's been an experience. I've been out here learning a lot. It's my first NFL camp, so it has been a great experience. I've never been to a place where we have fans at practice everyday," Watts said.
Watts is excited to be mentored by some of the linebackers currently on the Minnesota Vikings roster. Chad Greenway came to mind when I asked Watts about Mike Zimmer's defensive philosophy. He follows the way he plays on the field and Greenway has helped Watts transition to the NFL become more swift.
"It's great. I get to play with some great players. I was just out there with Chad Greenway. Chad Greenway, he helps me a lot, so it makes things easier on me, because I get to follow what he does, because I kind of back him up on everything. He's going into his ninth year and he is a vet at it, so he is pretty good with everything. So it's been an easy transition for me," Watts explained.
The coaching staff likes the athletic ability Watts can bring to the field and Brandon has stressed his willingness to drop into coverage. He feels that his athleticism can directly translate to covering receivers within multiple position groups.
"Yeah, I am [comfortable in pass coverage]. I can run pretty well, so I feel like I can run with everybody out there on the field and they can utilize me in different situations and positions; cover different backs and tight ends, just being able to be versatile," Watts added.
Watts and many of the defensive players continue to stress the physicality and energy that Mike Zimmer's defensive scheme provides. Watts understands that every pass will be contested and the ultimate goal is to get to the quarterback, which in turn will create turnovers for the secondary.
"We don't just stand there, were not targets; we attack. I love the attacking style we have. We are going to get after the quarterback and put pressure on them and pressure the receivers. If they are going to make some throws, they are going to have to be some tight contested throws," Watts said.
Watts is excited to continue working with linebackers coach Adam Zimmer and he likes the way he coaches him to continually progress as a player. He knows through work with Adam and Mike Zimmer, he can become a very special player.
"It's fun [working with Adam Zimmer]. He stays on me all the time, since I was the only rookie here for awhile, because Barr came in late. So he got a lot of one-on-one time with me, but it's good, he stays on me and makes me work hard. He fusses at me a lot, but it's just because I know he wants me to do good, so I like it," Watts explained.
Watts stressed the transition to the NFL has been difficult because of the physicality and strength of the lineman. With that said, he is indicating technique and fundamentals will be the key to his success at the next level.
"All of the offensive lineman are strong, you have to have your pad level down, because if you are too high, you can't get away with running across there with your pads on high. They'll bury you into the line and it will open up a seam really wide," Watts concluded.