The best wide receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft is Sammy Watkins, and the Clemson Tigers product is ranked significantly higher than the wide receivers behind them. While this class is incredibly deep at the position, Watkins’s speed, explosiveness, ability to high point the ball, leaping ability, and athleticism make him the clear-cut, consensus No. 1 prospect. Guys like Marqise Lee and Odell Beckham Jr. have gained plenty of buzz and have plenty of ability, but nobody matches Watkins, who hasn’t seen his stock fall at any point.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Watkins will participate in every single during during the Combine this month, and I’m sure we’re all just as interested in watching Watkins’s 40-yard dash as Rapoport is. I doubt he runs the 40 as fast as Tavon Austin does, but it will be interesting to see just how fast the stopwatches measure him.
40 times are overrated, of course, because straight-line speed is a very, very small piece of the pie when it comes to evaluating draft prospects, especially wide receivers. Route-running, hands, lateral agility, short-area quickness, strength, technique, leaping, and even blocking are important things to look at, but straight-line speed is right up there and always causes big headlines. Watkins will most likely be a top ten pick this year, and there’s a chance he could even slip into the top five. His ability to succeed in the slot and on the outside is yet another thing that makes him incredibly attractive to teams.