Thursday, March 6, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Prospect: WR Sammy Watkins - Clemson

Sammy Watkins
Wide Receiver
Clemson Tigers
Combine Numbers
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 211 lbs.
40 Time: 4.43s
Vertical: 34"
Broad Jump: 10'6"


2011 Freshman Season:  As a true freshman, caught 82 passes for 1219 yards and 12 TDs.  Also added 231 yards on 32 carries and returned 33 kickoffs for 826 yards and 1 TD.  Voted 1st Team All American by Pro Football Weekly, the Associated Press and FoxSports.

2012 Sophomore Season:  Wasn't as productive after serving a 2 game suspension to begin the season and with defenses keyed in on containing him.  Still finished the season with 57 passes for 708 yards and 3 TDs.  Also returned 13 kickoffs for 257 yards.

2013 Junior Season:  Returning back to elite form, Watkins caught 101 passes for 1464 yards (both Clemson records) and 12 TDs.  Watkins capped off his college career as the MVP of the 2014 Orange Bowl, setting a bowl record with 16 receptions for 227 yards.



+ Dynamic playmaker with incredible athleticism
+ Dangerous inside or outside
+ Lethal in space; makes plays after the catch
+ Excellent burst out of his breaks running routes
+ Great body control and extension catching the ball
+ Plays much bigger than his size
+ Has the extra gear to separate from defenders
+ Great hand and eye coordination
+ Willing blocker in running game


- Some off-field concerns from early Clemson career
- Needs to improve his release versus press coverage
- Currently lacks precision running routes
- Some durability concerns

NFL Player Comparison

The best player comparison for Sammy Watkins is a bigger version of Seattle's Percy Harvin. Harvin is dangerous anywhere on the field, lining up in the slot, on the perimeter and even in the backfield.  Like Harvin, Watkins can create and extend plays with the ball in his hands.  Clemson used him everywhere, from screens and short slants, to just letting him get vertical and separate from defenders.  Like Harvin, Watkins is an explosive quick twitch athlete who can reach full speed very quickly.  

Raiders Draft Analysis

Mike Mayock recently came out and said that Sammy Watkins is one of the best WR prospects he's seen on tape this decade.  

"He's one of the best receivers I've seen on tape in the last 10 years and I think what separates him are two different things, one, his run after the catch and secondly his toughness.  Because his combine was so good a couple of weeks ago, I think all he's going to do is catch the ball (at Clemson's Pro Day), and if he doesn't get hurt, he's going to be a top 10 pick"

That's a pretty bold statement considering that puts him in the company of some of the NFL elite: Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant among others.  Sure Darrius Heyward-Bey was the Raiders failed pick in the top 10, but Sammy Watkins comes with a ton more production and ability.

In a class that is deep at the wide receiver position, Sammy Watkins is a clear cut above the rest.  That's saying a lot about a player who will is most likely to make a difference from day 1 for any team that drafts him.  With the #5 pick, at least for me, Sammy Watkins would be the only offensive player worth taking if the Raiders stay pat.  The whole Rams contingent was on hand at Clemson's Pro Day, including GM Les Snead.  If the Rams don't find a trading partner with the 2nd pick overall, they may take Watkins.  His presence on the field would open things up underneath for last year's 8th pick Tavon Austin.

Back to the goes without question that an offensive weapon like Watkins would go a long way for a Raiders offense that clearly lacks a go-to playmaker.  With Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes, the team has guys that have potential and ability but haven't shown they can be the featured receiver on this team.  Watkins would change all of that.  OC Greg Olson would have the luxury of lining Watkins all up and down the formation to create mismatches.  Also, having a reliable playmaker would help whoever the Raiders have behind center.

Like Mayock said, Watkins could be an elite player in his rookie year.  He is a complete WR prospect with little to no holes in his game.  His weaknesses are all things that will come with coaching and added experience.  The only blemish on Watkins' record was his arrest for marijuana possession after his freshman season which lead to his 2 game suspension to start 2012. Though he did have a down year in 2012 after the incident, from everything he's said in interviews and his play on the field suggests he isn't the type of player to be problematic in the NFL.

The other scenario if Watkins is available at #5 would obviously involve trading down and piling up more picks.  As much as I would personally love to see Watkins in silver and black, it would be understandable and smart for the Raiders to consider all of their options.  The Lions and Jets had both head coaches and general managers on hand at Clemson's pro day.  The Falcons had 2 of their top scouts attending as well. The Falcons own the #6 pick, while the Lions have the #10 pick overall and the Jets have #18.

I personally don't think Watkins will fall out of the top 5 picks.  Today's NFL puts great value in offensive weapons like Watkins.  Without a clear cut franchise caliber QB prospect this year, Watkins could be the 1st offensive player along with either Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews to be drafted.  

If either of those teams are in love with Watkins, that could be the opportunity for the Raiders to possibly add an additional 2nd round pick plus more.  The last time a team jumped into the top 10 to draft a WR, it was the Falcons who gave up 5 draft picks (1st, 2nd 4th in 2011; 1st and 4th in 2012).  Though a haul like that is highly unlikely, trading down with a team like the Jets could net the Raiders an additonal 2 picks in the top 100.

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