Resign or Let Walk: Derek Watt
By: Adam Sadigh
Another player the Chargers will have to decide whether or not to resign is fullback, Derek Watt. If you read my last article on whether or not the Chargers should resign Hunter Henry, you already know the drill. I will weigh a list of pros and cons and decide whether or not it would be in the team’s best interest to resign the player. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Starting with the pros:
- A fullback is an important part of the Chargers’ offense. There was a lot of hope for Melvin Gordon when the Chargers drafted him in 2015. Unfortunately fans were quick to label him a bust following the end of a quiet season (641 yards on 184 carries, 3.5 yards a carry, and a whopping 0 touchdowns). Tom Telesco decided that to help Gordon, he would draft his former college fullback, Derek Watt, in the 6th round the following year. Since then, Gordon’s stats have improved tremendously (3,599 yards on 875 attempts, 4.1 yards a carry, and 36 rushing touchdowns). Say what you want, but the stats don’t lie.
- When called upon, Watt has shown his ability to pick up much needed yards and 1st downs. Throughout his career, on 19 rushes he has 11 first downs and 1 touchdown. Essentially, he’s converting 63 percent of his rushes into either first downs or touchdowns. This season was by far his best season carrying the rock (7 rushes, 6 first downs, 1 touchdown, 100% of runs converted into a 1st down or touchdown). Although this is a small volume of touches, it’s hard for me to imagine why he can’t receive more goal line touches such as versus the Titans this year. Four time pro bowler, Kyle Juszczyk has never converted more than 80% of his carries into a first down or touchdown in a season, and that was on 5 carries. Watt also provides versatility in the passing game. Throughout 4 seasons, Watt has caught 10 of his 13 targets for 152 yards (77% catch rate along with 15.2 yards a reception and a long of 53 yards). With these numbers, it baffles me why Watt is not used more as a runner and receiver.
- Although most fans don’t know this, Watt is a special teams star. Proof? Not a single player in the league had more special teams tackles than Watt this year (3 way tie for 1st with 16 tackles). Special teams are often an unheralded part of the game. Just look at the 2010 Chargers who ranked 1st in offense and 1st in defense… but ranked dead last in special teams and missed the playoffs.
Now for the cons:
- Watt is not the most consistent run or pass blocker. This season, PFF graded his pass blocking as a 34.2. Although pass blocking is not the main job of a fullback, this is definitely something the team would want to factor in along with an already struggling offensive line. As a run blocker, Watt received a grade of 58.2. This is also not great. Although the flashy stats are nice, at the end of the day, run blocking is the most important role of a fullback.
- Watt has been consistently… meh. Watt has never had a season above 65 in his 4 year career, according to PFF’s grading system. He’s logged a 55.4, 61.7, 65, and 57.5 from 2016 to 2019 respectively. Like I mentioned, pretty meh. Some people swear by PFF and others believe it’s a joke. I believe that it’s a good indicator of a player’s skill but not a be all end all. However, being an average player is not something a player strives for and Watt should definitely expect the Chargers to expect improvement from him if he is indeed brought back.
For me, this is a pretty easy decision. Watt’s impact on the team is more than his stats and PFF grades show. He definitely needs to improve in run blocking, but there’s no denying the impact he’s had on the run game and short yardage situations. His special teams impact should not go unnoticed. Since Watt resigning should be relatively cheap, I believe it would benefit the team to bring him back. Not to mention the team has to many positions of need this off-season to be adding another one to the list.