Welcome to the first edition of Blinders On – Blinders Off!
This will be a potential series where I take a look at a player or situation with a Negative Nancy – Positive Pete approach. Pretty basic stuff, written by me, debating both sides of an argument.
For the first one, I thought I would make things simple and talk about a player. The only difficulty was choosing which player. To start out, I thought it would only be fitting to choose Armani Watts. Why? Because we share the same last name: Watts! We’re practically brothers, so I have some stake in his race to success.
With Armani Watts, when he was drafted 124th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, there was a lot of instant excitement. He was seemingly a player that magically fell to the Chiefs and fans started instantly looking at his film and getting excited about the prospects of playing next to Eric Berry. Armani Watts is listed at 5’11 – 205 lbs. Some say that he fell in the draft due to his 40 time not being up to par. However, the tap showed an obvious playmaker that could hit in college. He racked up 324 total tackles and 24 were for loss. Watts had 10 INT and forced 7 fumbles. To put it in simple terms: Watts made plays!
Once he was a Kansas City Chief, he started getting us excited during the Preseason with his potential ball-hawking ability. The 2018 season began and Watts started to get a little playing time. Even though Eric Berry was famously day-to-day, Watts still wasn’t starting. Overall, Armani played in five games. He racked up five total tackles and a sack before being injured against the Jaguars in week five. Defeated by a core muscle injury that required surgery.
As far as we know, Armani Watts is now all healed up, and Eric Berry is no longer a Chief, so we can’t have the dream of them playing along side each other anymore. However, we can discuss Watts’ role with the Chiefs moving forward among a crowded safety room that is populated by brand new Chiefs like stud rookie Juan Thornhill and the big free agent get, the Honey Badger – Tyrann Mathieu, Chiefs mainstay, Daniel Sorensen and out of nowhere impact player, Jordan Lucas. The Chiefs also have some other names at safety coming into training camp.
However, the question is: Does Armani Watts have a place on the Chiefs, and will he make an impact?
Most definitely, Armani Watts has a place on this team. Sure the Honey Badger is the box safety, and that’s Watts’ specialty. But Watts is more gifted than your average limited box safety. He’s skilled in special teams, can block punts and hit your kick returner like a truck. Keep in mind, the Chiefs are installing a new defense. They have a new DC, and new positional coaches all over the place. When those men see the talent that Watts possesses, it will be a good conundrum for the Chiefs to be in.
It’s true that the Honey Badger will probably rarely come off the field as he’s a potential every down player. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that the Chiefs new coaching staff won’t find ways to get Watts onto the field to blitz the QB and pick off passes on obvious passing downs. Watts can run with tight ends, jump slant routes and hit players hard enough to make them cough of the football.
There won’t ever be an instance this season where Watts doesn’t get an opportunity to play and make an impact for the Chiefs and help them chase after a Super Bowl!
Let’s just slow down on the Armani Watts hype train a little bit. Core muscle injuries are nothing to mess around with. And injuries ruin some of the brightest futures in the NFL. It’s just the way of the world. Armani Watts struggled with injuries in college and he’ll probably continue to struggle with injuries in the NFL. It’s likely the guy won’t even make it out of training camp or the preseason without ending up on the IR.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say Watts does make it through to the regular season and lands on the active roster. Where is he going to play? Special teams?
We wasted a fourth round draft pick on a guy that might block a punt and make a few special teams tackles. I’m sure Dave Toub is super excited, but no one else cares. We wanted a safety that could beat out Sorensen and help us save some cap money. Instead we got Watts, a guy that can’t even see the field. Give us the Honey Badger and Juan Thornhill with a little Lucas on the side and let Watts have his spot in the injury tent where he spent his college days.
This guy won’t get out of the preseason, he probably won’t make final cuts “if” he does and there’s no way he’s going to help the Chiefs get to the Super Bowl unless he uses his fourth round salary to buy the team tickets. We should have signed Earl Thomas when we had the chance. Armani? More like City Streets (J.C. Penney’s brand), which is where he’ll be walking when the Chiefs cut him.
As is typically the case. The truth is somewhere in between blind hope and stubborn outlandish negativity. The coaches will probably tell you that Watts has a place on the team. He has a real shot to knock Sorensen off the squad or steal the playing time that Lucas impressively earned last season.
Health will always be a key factor with Armani Watts. There’s no doubt about that. But if Mr. Watts can stay healthy, it’s safe to put some lofty expectations on his impact with the Chiefs. Coach Spags will find uses for him as any team can utilize a ball hawking safety that can rack up tackles for loss, make INT’s and force fumbles.
It’s safe to feel comfortable with Armani Watts’ future as a Kansas City Chief. It’s probably even safe to cast some high expectations on to his sophomore season, maybe even buy a jersey. But I’d wait until he makes the roster before reaching that step in your Watts fandom.