Sammy Watkins: The Next Elite Wide Receiver?
101 receptions, 1,464 yards, 12 Touchdowns.
Sammy Watkins 2013 stat line looks a lot like something that we would see from Calvin Johnson or AJ Green. And Watkins capped his amazing career with 16 receptions against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2013 Orange Bowl.
During his three-year career at Clemson, Watkins compiled a 14.1 yards per catch average on 240 receptions. Even with a suspension and down year in 2012, he finished his three seasons with 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns. Watkins can also contribute in the run game, as seen by his career 6.5 yards per carry average on 52 rushing attempts.
His performance in the Orange Bowl cemented him as the top prospect at the wide receiver position heading into the 2014 Draft, a position that he has maintained throughout the pre-draft process. The biggest question regarding Watkins seems to be his 6’1” height. Outside of that, there is nothing that Watkins can’t do on the football field.
Character concerns have to be brought into the picture considering Watkins was arrested before the 2012 season. He was booked on possession of a controlled substance and simple possession of marijuana, and suspended for the first two games of the 2012 season by Clemson and head coach Dabo Swinney. Since this incident, Watkins has been on his best behavior, with no known issues.
He has speed to burn, running a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, a big reason he went fourth overall in this year's draft. Of course, many of the top wide receivers in the NFL can run fast - what sets Sammy Watkins apart from nearly everyone is his ability to use that speed to get into full gear in a flash. His shifty footwork off the line of scrimmage to go along with his long strides are going to make him a nightmare to cover in the NFL.
Watkins is widely regarded as the best wide receiver prospect to enter the draft since 2011 when AJ Green and Julio Jones. He possesses many of the same traits as Green and Jones, and has an uncanny ability to high point the football. He consistently wins against man coverage, and has displayed incredible ball skills during his career at Clemson
Watkins' Outlook In Buffalo
All expectations were for Watkins to go to a team like Jacksonville or Cleveland. Now in Buffalo, Watkins ceiling is somewhat dependent on the development of the Bills 2013 first-round pick, E.J. Manuel. Whether or not Stevie Johnson is in the picture will also play a big part in how high Sammy flies in year one.
In Buffalo, it's unlikely that Watkins has 1,000-plus yard potential as a rookie. That being said, I think he will be a boarderline WR3/WR4 for fantasy purposes, as he will have big games with enough targets. Surely the Bills will center their offense around their shiny new receiver, too, and Watkins' talent transcends the limits at the quarterback position. He can take a screen to the house at any time. I'm a firm believer that he should be your pick at 1.01 in rookie dynasty drafts.
According to our metrics, the Bills' Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (-60.20) in 2013 was fourth-worst in the NFL. Watkins will surely help the Bills improve in their passing game with his ability to make something out of nothing. The Bills invested a king's ransom by giving up both a 2015 first and fourth round pick, but I believe Watkins will provide the Bills with a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver for years to come.