The Dallas Cowboys are getting a little nastier as the team announced they are signing former Texans starting defensive tackle Carlos Watkins. The former Clemson standout started 11 contests last season and played in all 16 games notching 27 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Watkins is best known for his college career at Clemson where he was a key part of the Tigers’ national championship run topping Alabama in the 2017 title game. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney saw Watkins as a first-round caliber player.
“I think he has the potential to be a first- or a second-round type of a pick when people really do their homework,” Swinney told the Indy Star in January 2017. “He’s got it all. He’s strong and physical and big, space-eater to play the run, and he is incredibly athletic and gifted as a pass-rusher.”
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The Texans Selected Watkins in the 4th Round of the 2017 NFL Draft
Watkins lasted a little longer in the 2017 NFL Draft than Swinney predicted as the Texans snagged him in the fourth round with the No. 142 overall pick. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein believed Watkins would have been a second-round pick in the 2016 draft.
“Five Clemson Tigers left early for the NFL after the 2015 season. Watkins could have gone pro, probably landing in the second round, but he decided to stick around for his senior year to help his team win a national title,” Zierlein noted heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. “That did just that, thanks in part to Watkins’ play on the defensive line. He led the team with 13.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks among his 50 total stops, and was named first-team All-ACC and second-team Associated Press All-American at the end of the year.”
Watkins Has Experience Playing Both Defensive Tackle & Defensive End
Watkins gives the Cowboys another key player for their defensive line rotation. The former Texans player has experience playing both defensive end and defensive tackle but is expected to be used inside under new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
“Watkins (6-3, 297) was listed as a defensive end in the Texans’ base 3-4 scheme but played inside on passing downs in a four-man front,” DallasCowboys.com’s Rob Phillips detailed. “He could be a better fit at tackle in new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s 4-3 system. The Cowboys also have given the original draft choice tender to restricted free agent defensive tackle Antwaun Woods this week. The tackle depth chart also includes 2020 third-round pick Neville Gallimore and 2019 second-round pick Trysten Hill, who’s working his way back from a torn ACL suffered last October against the Giants.”
Earlier this offseason, Quinn detailed his defensive approach heading into Dallas during an interview on The PFF Podcast. Quinn noted he plans to gain familiarity with the Cowboys’ current personnel before he creates a detailed defensive scheme.
“There will certainly be guidelines that you want to fit guys into, but more than anything, what do you have and how to feature guys will drive a little bit of how you can play,” Quinn explained, via DallasCowboys.com. “That’s to me the top of the pile. Scheme-wise everybody has enough defensive flexibility to last for a while. It’s about how to put guys in the best spots and also having guys who can play significant roles of doing certain things really, really well. So that’s what I’m looking forward to, getting a chance to visit and see these players (on film) and find out all the unique stuff they have.”