Ryan Watts, CB
There has already been a good amount of movement for the projected roster for the Texas secondary in 2024 in the last couple of months. More is expected to occur, with more NFL Draft decisions and portal departures likely ahead in the coming days and weeks (per TFB Texas).
Texas already lost multiple scholarship defensive backs to the portal during the December window, including senior safety Jalen Catalon and sophomore safety BJ Allen Jr.
The defensive backs that the Longhorns are awaiting decisions regarding the NFL Draft from are senior nickel Jahdae Barron, senior safety Kitan Crawford, senior safety Jerrin Thompson, and redshirt junior corner Ryan Watts.
While Watts is technically a junior, he did just finish his fourth season in college. He took a redshirt during his first year in college with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2020.
Watts is probably the most intriguing of the upperclassmen defensive backs who could return to Texas for another year in 2024. That's because if he were to return to Texas for a third season, Watts would probably be looking at a move to safety to better develop his skill set for the NFL.
The best position for Watts in the NFL will probably be safety. Watts doesn't have the top end speed and acceleration needed from an NFL boundary corner. But he does have the size, coverage skills, and physicality needed to play safety at the next level.
Texas is expected to have redshirt sophomore Michael Taaffe, true freshman Derek Williams Jr., and true freshman Jelani McDonald back at safety next season. Safeties coach Blake Gideon and the Longhorns also added an immediate impact safety in the 2024 recruiting class in five-star Florida flip and McKinney (TX) product Xavier Filsaime.
If Watts did return to Texas next season and move from boundary corner to safety, there is a chance that he could be the most experienced DB in that position group. In the situation that Watts and Filsaime joined Williams, Taaffe, and McDonald in the safety room next year, that could make for some good competition and a potential upgrade in performance at the position in the SEC compared to what we saw from them on the field this season.