2. He is the Third Ivy Leaguer on Tampa Bay’s Roster
Coming out of the University of Pennsylvania, Justin Watson joins a small group of Ivy League players in the NFL. As of April 25, 2018, there were just seventeen Ivy League players with spots on one of the 32 NFL rosters. Watson joined that list on Saturday, becoming the third Ivy Leaguer on the Bucs’ current roster. Already on the roster are Harvard products Ryan Fitzpatrick and Cameron Brate.
For some in the business of scouting future NFL players, there seems to be some hesitation when it comes to players from smaller schools. A guy like Watson, even at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, is overlooked because of the competition he lined up against in college. The same stigma applies to Alex Cappa, Tampa Bay’s third round pick out of Division II Humboldt State. Looking at his track record, general manager Jason Licht clearly doesn’t see small-school prospects the same way.
Even in his NFL.com draft profile makes sure to mention the level of competition he faced while at Penn. Under weaknesses, Lance Zierlein lists that Watson’s “level of competition at cornerback didn’t offer challenging looks.” Sure, he will face bigger, stronger and more talented corners in the NFL. But even still, that shouldn’t discount his upside, which includes “very good NFL size with muscular, well-proportioned frame,” an ability to “sink hips into breaks for sudden stops” and “solid” ball skills, according to Zierlein. Level of competition at the Ivy League level doesn’t hinder everyone, as evidenced by the careers of Fitzpatrick and Brate.