The Denver Broncos tend to find contributors from their undrafted classes. The well known ones like Phillip Lindsay become super stars, but most come in and contribute significantly elsewhere. Josh Watson, a three-year starter out of Colorado State, was one of those.
#54 Josh Watson
Age 23. 6’2”, 240 lbs.
College: Colorado State
Watson was signed to the Broncos practice squad after the first round of cuts in September of 2019, but midway through the season he saw himself on the active roster contributing heavily on special teams in the final eight games.
In high school, Watson once records 31 tackles in a game. That probably doesn’t mean much at the NFL level, but it was a stat I came across and wanted to share. Watson also piled up 13.5 tackles for a loss during his final two seasons in college.
During training camp last season, head coach Vic Fangio was noncommittal on Watson.
“He’s been fine. He’s a rookie. I think he’s got good ability,” Fangio said. “Just like I said with some of the other rookies, he’s got to learn to become an NFL linebacker. He’s working hard at it. It’s important to him. I like him. We’ll see how far he can go.”
When Watson was cut and subsequently signed to the practice squad, veterans on the team told him he would get called up before the season was over and on November 1, 2019 he was.
“I just kept my head down, was grinding every day, and getting the work in (during) practice,” said Watson. “And building trust with the coaches allowed me to get caught up and be productive and allowed me to be a factor on special teams this year.”
He played well on special teams and finished the season with one total tackle.
It’s hard to say anything bad about a guy who came into the league as an undrafted player and who has only been asked to play on special teams thus far in his short career. Watson is contributing to the team and has been able to stick around on the roster through his first season. That is already exceeding expectations from a undrafted player.
I would hope to see him continue to grow and compete for more playing time in 2020. I would expect him to see more of a “starting” role on special teams given he came in and performed down the stretch last season. Beyond that, I would hope to see him grow into a contributor on defense at the inside linebacker position behind Todd Davis and Alexander Johnson.