Thursday, March 20, 2014
College Football-NFL Comparisons: Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins rivals Marquise Lee as the top wide receiver in this year's draft. The lean, elegant, quick Clemson Tiger had a stellar collegiate career by any standard, and impressed at the combine (a 4.43 40 will cement his status as an elite player nicely), such that most mock drafts have him going early in the first, top 10 even. Tampa Bay with the seventh overall pick is an intriguing suitor, and they would certainly be happy to have him, but we can't really tell if Watkins will make it that far or, on the flip side, be valued that highly. Regardless, Watkins looks to be an excellent player at the next level, with maturity and talent in equal measure. As an excellent player he already merits an intriguing comparison with Ravens wideout Torrey Smith. While Watkins has a formidable skill set in terms of hands and winning the ball, the area where he truly excels and would even stand out in the NFL is after the catch. Watkins puts together a great and even comical highlight reel with elusiveness and speed. He extends plays and his yards after the catch are astronomical at times. He has the ability to make huge plays with explosive moves, making plenty of decent secondaries look stupid. We have seen this all before in many a great NFL receiver, but Smith especially draws a good comparison in this regard. Midway through Watkins' freshman season (as a true freshman in 2011), an astonishing 63% of his yards came after the catch! This is no statical anomaly for a player who didn't see much of the field, as Watkins totaled over 1,200 yards his freshman season. So he played a lot, made a lot of big plays, and did most of his considerable damage on his feet with the ball in his hands. Beyond this, he has great hands and wins balls out of the air, with 27 touchdowns in three years of college ball. A tempting prospect for any NFL team, Watkins should excel wherever he lands, and he will be fun to watch for years to come.