Looking to add depth and talent to the offensive line, GM Tom Telesco selected Notre Dame’s Chris Watt in the third round of last month’s NFL Draft.
Part of an offensive line that allowed just eight sacks and ranked tied for second in the FBS in fewest sacks allowed, no team in the nation allowed fewer sacks and attempted more passes than Notre Dame in ‘13. With the versatility to play both guard positions, Watt has also worked at center behind starter Nick Hardwick while attending the OTA’s (Organized Team Activities) and mini-camp over the past two months. Recently, Watt sat down with MP reporter Art Garcia Jr. and talked about his experience going through the draft process and his goals for his rookie season.
AG: So where were you when you received the call that the Chargers drafted you?
CW: I was at my home in Glen Ellynn, Illinois when I got the call. I was sitting around with my family – my mom and dad — my brother and sister couldn’t make it unfortunately – but with my uncle and my brother’s girlfriend, and I got the call around eleven o’clock at night Chicago time. We were sitting there watching the draft and about two picks beforehand, maybe the 87th pick, I get a phone from Tom Telesco and the San Diego Chargers organization telling me they were going to draft me and asking how it felt to be a Charger and it was unbelievable. You kind of remember (the moment), but you’re so pumped up that you kind of forget.
AG: Did you have any idea the Chargers were interested in you?
CW: I knew going into the process that they were one of the teams that really liked me and I really liked them too – I actually met with them at the combine when the whole organization was down there. I had a great interview – I love this coaching staff; the GM and Coach McCoy; and obviously a great O-Line coach in with Joey D (D’Alessandris) here – he’s great. He kind of reminds me of my coach at Notre Dame (where) he stresses the little things a lot and that’s big going into the NFL.
AG: Heading into the draft what were your expectations, where did you think you would be picked?
CW: I really didn’t have any expectations, I just wanted to find a good situation for me – whether it was the third-round or the seventh-round, I just expected for myself to go in there and compete and make sure I’m ready to play.
AG: As a three-year starter at Notre Dame what do you feel your strengths are as a player and what do you bring to the Chargers?
CW: I think the biggest thing I bring is a physical mentality to every play that needs that kind of physicality and also I’m a smart player. I’m a good read and reactor type of player and once I kind of know things I can do them pretty efficiently, so I feel pretty good about going into minicamp and getting my feet wet a little bit and I’m looking forward to these next few days and getting to know this offense more and more.
AG: That physical type of play is something this team has missed since Kris Dielman retired. I heard that your physicality is one of the things they liked about you… your thoughts?
CW: That’s pretty flattering being mentioned with Kris Dielman, he’s someone I watched a little growing up. He was an unbelievable offensive guard and lineman – someone that you kind of looked up to because of how he played the game and you want to see that (type of play) in your game a little bit as well. There are a lot of great guys in there and a lot of great offensive linemen in there and I just want to come and contribute to this team in any way I can.
AG: Did you set any goals for yourself this rookie season?
CW: The only goals I set for myself coming in was to learn as much as I can from the veterans and just work hard – that’s really all I can ask from myself right now.
“This is another really good football player from Notre Dame,” NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock said prior to the draft. “Watt teamed with Zack Martin on the left side of that offensive line (at Notre Dame). He’s one of the smartest and toughest offensive linemen in this draft.” Martin was the first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys at No. 16 overall. Another Irish teammate of Watt, defensive tackle Louis Nix III, was selected by the Houston Texans. A projected first-round draft pick, Nix fell to the third round before he was selected No. 83 overall. When asked if he was surprised that Nix wasn’t picked earlier Watt said, “A little bit, but there are so many surprises in the draft that I guess you can’t be surprised too much anymore. I talked to him for a little bit after the draft and he was really happy with his situation and I think it’s the same thing (with me) – as long as you get into a good situation where you’re happy the rest will take care of itself.” Despite finishing the ’13 season ranked 29th in total defense, the Chargers ranked 11th overall in points allowed (348 and 21.8/game) per Pro Football Focus. The signing of free agent Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers in addition to the healthy return of Dwight Freeney and Melvin Ingram will hopefully improve those rankings in 2014.