Steelers draft lengthy Texas CB Ryan Watts

Texas continues its impressive run of draft picks in 2024, with CB Ryan Watts going to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Day 3.
Ryan Watts, Texas football
Ryan Watts, Texas football / Jay Janner / American-Statesman / USA

Texas football reached double-digit draft picks with the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting redshirt junior cornerback Ryan Watts, with the 195th overall pick in the sixth round. Watts was the first Texas defensive back and fourth defensive player selected in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Texas football CB Ryan Watts drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round

This is the first time that the Longhorns had double-digit players selected in the same NFL Draft class in four decades. Texas had a whopping 18 selections in the 1984 NFL Draft.

Watts is also the first Texas defensive back picked up in the NFL Draft since the Denver Broncos selected Caden Sterns in the fifth round (152nd overall) in 2021.

The 6-foot-3 and 208-pound Little Elm, TX, native Watts is one of the longer defensive backs in this draft class. His combination of height and wingspan makes him a unique defensive back at the NFL level.

Watts started at boundary corner over the last two seasons at Texas. He started his career for the first two years with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2020 and 2021 before transferring to Texas to finish out his time in college in the last two seasons.

Given Watts' football instincts and larger frame, it is expected that he could transition from playing cornerback to safety for the Steelers. He excels at playing downhill in run defense and can be sent on delayed blitzes getting after the opposing quarterback.

Watts plays with a physical edge. He can lay the lumber when he gets his sights on the ball carrier playing downhill.

What is expected to hold Watts back, if anything does, at the next level is his lacking straight-line speed and quickness. He ran a 40-yard dash time above 4.5 seconds, which ranked in the bottom half of cornerbacks that tested at the NFL Combine.

Watts also ranked in the bottom quarter of cornerbacks that participated at the combine in the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill.

Watts joins safety DeShon Elliott as the two former Longhorns defensive backs in the Steelers secondary. He'll be able to add vital defensive back depth to a Steelers secondary that lost multiple DBs to free agency this offseason.

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