When was the last time the fullback position featured one of the more interesting position battles heading into training camp? Never?
Fans of the Los Angeles Chargers have likely grown to really like Derek Watt, but his position isn’t completely safe this year. That is because the team brought in a fullback as an undrafted rookie.
Anthony Manzo-Lewis played at the University of Albany in the Colonial Athletic Association and receive little attention prior to the draft. However, the Chargers are a team that utilizes the fullback position and he will be ready to give Watt a run for his money.
At 6’0 and 257 pounds, Manzo-Lewis has a great build and as a result, packs a punch as a blocker. Though Watt has sufficed as a blocker, Manzo-Lewis might be an even better option in that regard. One area where he is definitely a better option is as a receiver.
He caught 53 passes during his college career and found the end zone four times. In addition, the Great Danes lined him up all over the field, including as an H-back and even as a slot receiver. Versatility is something all teams generally value, and aside from being a lead blocker out of the I-formation, Watt isn’t exactly versatile.
Manzo-Lewis is a punishing blocker and quite frankly, one of the better blockers you’d ever see at the fullback position. Between that skill and his versatility, he should be able to make a run at obtaining a roster spot, despite his status as and undrafted rookie.
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This guy is a football player and not to say that Watt isn’t, because he obviously is, but fans are going to love the effort and toughness that Manzo-Lewis plays the game with. He shouldn’t be dismissed just because he comes to the league from the University of Albany, which certainly isn’t known as a football factory.
Still, I think the team will have a hard time cutting this guy, provided he gets a decent amount of reps this summer. Watt will be entering his third year with the team, but he’s far from expendable.
In the end, I see Watt retaining the job and one of the main reasons for that is the fact that he was a college teammate of Melvin Gordon, who has been a more effective runner since the team drafted Watt. And that’s the other reason, the team did use a sixth-round pick on Watt, a player that likely would have gone undrafted, so the Chargers definitely saw something in him.
The team may not be ready to give up on that something just yet, but he’s going to have to earn it.