Clemson Tigers star wide receiver Sammy Watkins officially declared for the 2014 NFL Draft on Monday after multiple reports over the weekend stated that he would declare with an announcement set for Monday. While some have Texas A&M Aggies standout Mike Evans at the top of their list, I don’t think the big wideout is as good as Watkins, who is the top WR prospect in the draft in my view. It would be almost criminal for him to slip out of the top ten, because he has most traits that you look for in a top receiver .Watkins is a good enough route-runner and has the short-area quickness and hands to be a big threat in the slot, and he can most certainly play on the outside with his game-breaking speed and explosiveness.
There aren’t many concerns out there when it comes to Watkins, but one of them is his height. NFL Insider Adam Caplan tweeted out than an executive told him that the “only potential issue” with Watkins is his height at 6’1″. This exec apparently isn’t sold that Watkins is tall enough to be a No. 1, “X”-type receiver in the NFL, and Caplan adds that “some may have” this issue, implying that this exec isn’t the only one with those concerns.
Several respected writers such as FOX Sports’s insider Mike Garafolo and CBS Sports’s Dane Brugler (the best in the business among draft experts, in my opinion) tweeted their disagreement, and I also don’t view height as a concern at all with Watkins.
6’1″ is short for an “X” receiver in the NFL, but height is just a number in the grand scheme of things; it’s all about how the receiver plays. Watkins more than makes up for the two inches or so that other No. 1 receivers on the outside in the NFL have on him, because he is an incredibly aggressive player who has the vertical leap, desire, and skill to contest and come down with passes at the catch point. I’ve seen him do this time-and-time again at Clemson, and he’s definitely bailed out Tajh Boyd in a huge amount of ways. When I watch Watkins on tape, I see a guy who plays taller than 6’1″, and he knows how to come down with big passes downfield and in the red zone. As Brugler tweeted, Watkins’s lack of size doesn’t do him any favors, but it’s far from a legitimate concern. I mean, just look at Steve Smith for an example of how little height means in the face of determination and leaping ability.
Sammy Watkins is the top wide receiver in the draft class, and the height concern is honestly a moot point. The executive sounds very high on Watkins, though, as he only calls it a “potential issue” and states that it is the “only” possible issue with Watkins. There’s little doubt that the Clemson product is an outstanding, pro-ready receiver, and I become more convinced that he’s the best WR in this class by some distance with each passing week. I was once an Evans “guy”, but Watkins’s all-around game has me sold. I don’t like to make conclusions off of one game, but he was magnificent against Ohio State with 16 receptions for 227 yards and two TDs, and that kind of a performance really does make a difference; it also typified his impact as a player this season.