Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Watt keeps consistent approach before draft
By Matt Fortuna
Consistency has been the definition of Chris Watt's career. He started 34 straight games in his final three seasons at Notre Dame. Alongside tackle and roommate Zack Martin, Watt helped form a left side that became the anchor of the Irish's stout offensive line the past three seasons.
Chris Watt hopes to hear his name called at the NFL draft as early as the second day.
Perhaps it's the nature of the job, or the seemingly never-ending ascent of his buddy Martin's stock. But Watt quietly has flown under the radar these past four months. With the NFL draft just more than a week away, Watt could hear his name called as early as the third round.
Only then will the left guard allow himself to exhale and enjoy the feeling of a dream realized.
"I think the biggest thing is just stay patient and avoid the noise," Watt said. "The biggest thing to do right now is just really concentrate on yourself. When it's all said and done, it's really how you perform when you go to training camp, so all you really can control is getting better at this point. Don't worry about the things that are out of your control."
Watt, who suffered a PCL tear and an MCL sprain in his right knee late in his final season with the Irish, flew to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., following the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which he did not play in. He went to work there with Martin and Stephon Tuitt, preparing for February's NFL scouting combine, where he was only able to bench-press because of his lingering injuries. He did 29 reps.
The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Watt said he felt close to 100 percent right before last month's pro day at Notre Dame, where he did everything but the bench press. He had a three-cone drill time of 7.6 seconds and a vertical leap of 28.5 inches. (Each number would have ranked tied for 11th and tied for 12th, respectively, among offensive linemen at the combine.)
Watt has stayed in South Bend, Ind., since, and he said he has relied heavily on Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand throughout this process, as the assistant's five years of experience with the Chicago Bears has given him plenty of information to share.
Watt was one of about a half-dozen offensive linemen to work out with Bears line coach Pat Meyer two weeks ago at Halas Hall during the franchise's local pro day — a treat for a Glen Ellyn, Ill., native who grew up attending the club's training camp back when it was held in Platteville, Wis., more than a decade ago.
Watt has found himself snapping for teams on visits, and he is open to a switch to center if deemed necessary. It won't affect the way he approaches the game, however.
"The biggest thing is that I understand how to block, especially in our system. I understand everything it takes and some of the changes you have to make," Watt said. "I'm a smart player that's going to go out there and really just play through the end of the whistle at all times, and that's just kind of the attitude I've carried since I've been playing in high school, so I'm never really going to change the way I approach the game."