LB Nathaniel Watson (5.10.24)

What are your first impressions here of your rookie main camp?

“Feeling great, and just glad to be back in football season. So it isn’t football season yet, but it’s getting close for me. I went through all of the combine, pro days and stuff, so I’m glad all that is over, training as a track athlete for a good couple of months, now I’m back in football shape. I just can’t wait to get started.”


I saw you were FaceTiming with Martin Emerson after you got picked. Has he been giving you some pointers or telling you where to live or anything like that?

“We didn’t talk too much about living, but we really just talked about how I’m gonna fit in the defensive scheme. He said he’s gonna love to get me around here, so I just can’t wait to get with him and the rest of the older players, just learn more from all of them.”


Daniel, you were at school a long time, six years. Can you explain how that came to be, how you ended up playing six years?

“Honestly, I was gonna come out last year, but I just didn’t feel like I was ready. Personally, I didn’t feel like I was ready to take the next step to the league, so I just decided to go back another year. I mean, free education, so I might as well go ahead and use it, get another degree, and then just finish out as best I can.”


And you got a couple of degrees?

“Yeah, I got two. I got an undergrad and a master’s.”


What are they in?

“My undergrad is interdisciplinary studies, which is a concentration of kinesiology, criminology, psychology. Then my master’s is in Workforce Education Leadership.”


What does the Workforce degree mean?

“It means I really can do anything with it. So, I can really be a coach or if I wanted to, just get me a nice job.”


You played for five different head coaches?

“No, I played for three. Coach (Joe) Moorehead, I committed under Dan Mullin, never played for him. So I played with Moorehead, Coach (Mike) Leach, and Coach (Zach) Arnett.”


So you had a lot of coaching changes?



You elected to stay at Mississippi State?

“Yeah, just my loyalty, which speaks for itself. With the transfer portal and everything that’s going on in college, you have a lot of kids that want to dip out, chase the money a lot. And me personally, with some of my other fellow teammates from Mississippi State, we had elected just to stay and ride it out till the wheels fall off. So that’s what we did.”


You seem you’re well educated and you got it all together, but when you look at some of the stuff in your background, what’s the deal with some of that off the field stuff that you had?

“Young. Young and dumb. I mean, it happened to a lot of young people, so I really don’t look too much back into it. You know, it’s a learning process. Learn from all of my mistakes. So that’s really just moving forward.”


What were some of the biggest lessons you took away? Especially because the drag racing, somebody got hurt.

“Really just me being more careful of who is around me and stuff. Taking precautions and really just knowing not to play around in cars and just do more for myself just because you got a spotlight on yourself. Being in the league and then when I was in Mississippi State, having big shoes to fill and being in my role, you got a lot of eyes on you. So just being cautious of everything.”


Did you have a lot of experience on special teams at the MSU?

Yeah, in the back of the years I played special teams. I’ve only played special team my sophomore year, but I really ain’t got too much, so I’m looking to play a lot of special teams here though. I do whatever I need to do to get on the field, so if I got to learn how to play lineman, I’m gonna play it.”


Linebackers get a lot of special teams play early on.

“That’s the plan. That’s the plan, most definitely.”


What do you know about this group of Browns linebackers?

“They play fast, physical, and they’re gonna get to the ball. So really what Coach (Jason Tarver) has been telling us. Really just showing us what our job description is and everything, which is to be the GPS, the navigator. So, control the defense, keep them calm and everything.”


Can you be concerned that perhaps some teams thought about some of that off the field stuff and that’s why you dropped to the 6th round? And how grateful are you that the Browns really just got to know you as a person and saw that?

“No, I don’t think it went too much into it. Personally, I think it’s politics. I mean, I can’t speak too much on it, so, it is what it is. But I’m thankful for the opportunity that the Browns called me. I got to the senior bowl, had a good time with Coach Eph (Ephraim Banda), the safety coach. So, me and him chopped it up a lot. I had a feeling I was gonna come to the Browns. I just didn’t know when. So, I mean, he told me they were gonna get me, so, he wasn’t lying.”


You were a big offensive star in high school. How did you end up on defense?

“When coach Moorehead came in, he had Coach (Tem) Lukabu with him, and he was an NFL linebacker, NFL coach. So, he really persuaded me to come to defense, and I make a lot of money on the defensive side, so then I just went with the flow. And then after seeing previous linebackers get drafted and then go on and make money, I was like, I might really have a shot at this.”


You don’t miss scoring touchdowns?

“I mean, not really. I get my happiness out of knocking people out. That’s a positive for me.”


There’s this new kickoff rules that are going to be in effect for coverage and all that in the NFL. It seems like nobody really knows how that’s going to work yet. How excited are you as you get more into special teams, to be a part of that from the ground floor?

“I don’t know how it’s going to work either, but I know we’re close together, so that means it’s just a better impact. Like I said, I’m a physical person. I just love hitting somebody, so I just can’t wait to get out there on special teams.”


How many years did you play with Emerson?



Were you particularly close or just teammates?

“We hung outside of football and then on the field I was their leader, so they had to listen to me. But now, I gotta look up to him since he’s an old head [laughing].”


Did you follow him once he got here?

“Yeah, I’ve been following. I’ve been following the Browns since he came up here. I was following the Seahawks when my old offensive lineman went out. And then I follow the Cowboys with Dak Prescott, of course, then another linebacker, so, yeah I follow back that far.”


Was it a surprise that you fell to the 6th round?

“Surprise, I mean, it is what it is at this point. I mean, I’d just be grateful for the opportunity. I was surprised. I definitely was emotional, just seeing my mom and grandmother when they heard my name get called, and they just started busting out in tears. They really made me break down. Plan was never to cry, but, you know, a man [can] cry.”


The fact that you fell in the 6th, did that give you a little more edge with the people that passed up on you?

“I mean, I was gonna have an edge regardless. That’s just me. My work is going to have to speak for itself. I always play with the edge, just trying to get paid.”


You talk about your physicality, and the Browns mentioned the rare size that you have. Do you feel like you’re different than a lot of linebackers in today’s NFL just because you are 235?

“Yeah. Me personally, just because there aren’t too many linebackers that can blitz, cover, and stop the run. Personally, I think I got all three of them phases.”


Do you think the fact that you were older and that you played six years was part of the reason why maybe some teams stayed away from you?

“I don’t know too much about that.”


What are the emotions of you sitting there and names keep getting called, they’re not your name. Is it anxiety or how would you describe that?

“I was laid back, just chilling, spending time with the family. Having the family all around, just spending time with them, and just seeing them be happy for me in the moment. Then when my name got called, seeing all their smiles on their faces. Really wasn’t too much to it.”


Can you describe your hometown, how small it is?

“It’s one caution light. I don’t even think it works.”


What’s the biggest store?

“I think Dollar General. It’s Maplesville, small town. You pass through Tuscaloosa when you go. You come out of Tuscaloosa and try to go to Montgomery, you wouldn’t even know it’s there. You wouldn’t know it’s Mapleville unless you drive into town, which again, is one caution light in the middle of town.”


So you’re the only player to come out of there?

“No my Uncle on my dad’s side, Tommy Agee and my other uncle Harold Marrow.”


Do you agree when people say you’re just a country boy, a down home country guy?

“Do I sound country?


Did Martin Emerson set the bar pretty high for you in terms of coming in here as a rookie and just knocking it out of the park right away?

“Yeah, I think he told the linebackers something about me, so we’ll see. We’ll see when they all get here, what he says. So we’ll see how high he set the bar for me.”


What are some of the questions that you’re asking? What are some of the things you’re hoping to take in as you are like a sponge in this building?

“Really just how I can get on the field quicker. How I can learn faster. Really just taking everything in, be a sponge. Ask the coaches why they’re doing this, why this, why that. Just ask the question why? That’s really what I talked through throughout my draft process. Just ask why behind every question.”


There’s always a lot said about the transition from college to the NFL. What are you anticipating as some of the bigger adjustments that you’ll have to experience as you make the leap?

“Probably just being out there with guys that I didn’t watch growing up and being star struck for a while. That’s probably going to be my biggest emphasis. Cause I see Myles Garret and I say, ‘Man, I’m really on his team? I’m really on their team?’ That’s probably gonna be the biggest thing. I’m looking forward to it, though.”


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