Luke Wattenberg has been a constant for the Washington Huskies’ offensive line over the past five years. As a super senior he has been through the ups and the downs with the team and even though this year didn’t go as planned, it does not take away from the fantastic career he put together. Wattenberg started in five of the six years he was at Washington (the other being a redshirt year in 2016), including starts at left tackle, left guard, and center.
While Wattenberg’s tape this past season was not overly impressive, Wattenberg did receive a combine invite meaning there is some interest in the NFL in possibly drafting, or more likely signing him as a free agent. He has a profile that could make him a valuable depth player throughout his career.
Wattenberg was a composite four-star recruit coming out of high school in 2016. He was listed as either a guard or a tackle depending on the source. He was a participant in the All-American Bowl following his senior season. Was part of the varsity roster in his freshman year of high school.
Wattenberg completed his sixth year at Washington this past season, including a redshirt year in 2016 and another year of eligibility due to COVID-19. He will be on the older side as a rookie. Wattenberg has started a whopping 48 games during his career, meaning there will be no lack of experience as he moves to the next level.
Weight: 300 pounds
Arm Length: 34 1/8”
Wingspan: 81 7/8”
Hand Size: 9 3/8”
Athletic Testing and Relative Athletic Score (RAS)
Via Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb on Twitter). RAS or Relative Athletic Score measures a player’s athleticism in reference to other players’ combine results.
Each trait is graded on a 20-80 scale (very similar to how the MLB grades prospects) that Neptune Scouting’s Alex Katson and myself developed to better communicate player grades. More information about this new scale can be found here.
Pass Protection (50 - Average): Wattenberg is an average pass protector, for a team that struggled to pass the ball last season he was able to hold his own. He has fine strength and above-average technique and awareness due to his level of experience. He will struggle on stunts or late blitzes due to below-average movement skills and overall stiffness.
Anchor (40 - Below Average): Really has trouble impeding progress on rushers he is engaged with, lacks the upper body flexibility to be able to absorb the initial rush and is often pushed back off the ball immediately. He will really struggle to maintain the pocket for his quarterback (could be better off at guard, for this reason, would have more time to set his base).
Hand Placement (55 - Above Average): Solid and expected for his level of experience, will have little to fix here. Could improve where he places his hands when he is on the move or attempting to launch on zone blocks. Can get a bit sloppy when things happen too quickly for him to truly fall back in his comfort zone.
Balance (55 - Above Average): Wattenberg is solid in this area, he rarely ends up on the ground and knows how to distribute his weight in order to generate the most push from the get-go. He does not play over his feet all that often and is fairly disciplined in this respect as a pass protector.
Power (45 - Fringe-Average): Doesn’t really move or generate that much push as a run blocker or in pass protection. Is mostly stagnant in the running game, can maintain lanes if he gets to a defender fast enough but will not be a player who thrives in getting the lanes open for his running back. Will not maintain pocket integrity for long periods of time, can struggle to deal with rushers who can power him back into the quarterback.
Pulling Ability (40 - Below Average): Really lacks athleticism that will make him a threat on the move, will not be a good fit for most zone-blocking teams as he struggles to move and latch to defenders. Wattenberg can struggle to find defenders in space and really make an impact. Must improve his awareness and overall technique in order to compensate for some of the athletic limitations.
Run Blocking (45 - Fringe-Average): Nothing truly special in this area, Wattenberg like the entirety of the UW offensive line really struggled this past season to create push due to a lack of creativity in run schemes. He wasn't really able to create an impressive amount of push in one on one matchups and will likely struggle in the NFL to be a consistent contributor in this area.
Feet (55 - Above Average): Shows the experience in this area, deliberate foot placement leads to a lack of misplaced steps or feet crossing over and causing issues. He will not have much adjustment to make here which could help him carve out a depth role early in his career.
Versatility (70 - Star): Is on the larger side for a center so he could potentially kick over to guard if needed. Could end up as a valuable reserve player due to this versatility. Has started at left tackle, left guard, and center over his career.
Frame (70 - Star): Wattenberg has the frame of a tackle but is playing on the inside, this does make his fit a bit challenging at times but his reach advantage is an enormous plus for his profile. He will be able to latch on early if he can better learn to utilize it.
Final Grade and Summary
Ceiling Grade: 5.7 (Depth Player)
Wattenberg’s ideal future in the NFL comes as a backup for multiple positions. He has a frame that will allow him to fit in many positions across the offensive line. He could be an ideal 6th or 7th offensive lineman with some upside due to his testing numbers at the combine. His experience will come in handy early in his career and may help him to latch onto a roster if he is not drafted.
Floor Grade: 5.0 (Practice Squad)
Wattenberg did not show the athleticism that popped up at the combine on tape and there are some parts of his game, such as his lack of anchor, that could really hurt him as he looks to find a roster spot. Wattenberg is not going to be a fit for every team but his testing numbers mean a spot on a practice squad could allow him to hone his craft at one position. If Wattenberg is unable to put it all together as he continues to age he may bounce around teams early on.
Round Grade: Undrafted Free Agent
Summary: Where Luke Wattenberg is ultimately selected or lands as a free agent is going to determine a lot about what his career ends up looking like. He will likely never be a full-time starter but his positional versatility, frame, and strong testing numbers will allow him to at least get a few chances. The issues with Wattenberg come in that he stagnated in development as a sixth-year senior, is very much on the older side for a rookie, and there are glaring holes in his game that could prevent him from being successful. Finding the sweet spot for his projection is a challenge but teams are always looking for experienced offensive linemen with versatility so Wattenberg should find a home late on day three or quickly after the draft concludes.
Injury Risk/Character Concerns: None