Mississippi State Football's Nathaniel Watson heading to Cleveland after stellar college career

A third Mississippi State football star has been taken in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Arizona v Mississippi State
Arizona v Mississippi State / Justin Ford/GettyImages

Three Mississippi State football players have now been selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. All three played for the Bulldog defense, and that includes the leader of that defense.

Linebacker Nathaniel "Bookie" Watson was taken in the 6th Round of the draft by the Cleveland Browns with the 206th overall pick.

Nathaniel Watson is one of the most decorated linebackers in Mississippi State history. In his final season, Watson led the SEC in both tackles (137) and sacks (10). He also recorded 13 tackles for loss, seven QB hurries, two pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and an interception.

Bookie was named the 2023 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. He received both 2nd and 3rd-Team All-American honors. He is seventh in Mississippi State history in both total career tackles (379) and career sacks (21).

Nathaniel Watson joins an elite defense in Cleveland

There aren't many better landing spots for a defender than the Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland defense, coordinated by Jim Schwartz, ranked first in the NFL in 2023 in yards allowed at 270 yards per game while surrendering just 21 points per game.

The Browns have stars in their defensive front with DE Myles Garrett and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. They're loaded in the secondary with the likes of Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, Grant Delpit, and, of course, former Bulldog Martin Emerson.

Despite their strength defensively, linebacker was an area of need for the Browns. They're relatively thin at that spot and have worked to build up depth during the offseason. They get that with the addition of Nathaniel Watson. He's a fierce downhill tackler, and though Schwartz doesn't call many blitzes, Watson excels as a pass-rusher when he's asked to.

Cleveland is a fantastic landing spot for Bookie, and he gets to reunite with his former college teammate in Martin Emerson. Scouts have some questions about his overall athleticism, which is why he had to wait until late to hear his name called. But his production cannot be ignored. I fully expect him to make an impact.