Clemson Tigers product Sammy Watkins is definitely the best wide receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft class, but the competition isn’t light given the depth at the position and the amount of talent that other top WRs like Odell Beckham Jr. and Allen Robinson has. But Watkins stands alone at the top, and it’s for more reasons than just his elite speed, quickness, and playmaking ability. I mean, he gets plenty of YAC and can make some awe-inspiring plays, but there’s so much more to Watkins’s game than speed and agility that need to be appreciated. For instance, Watkins has such good leaping ability that he gets everything out of his frame, and he can high-point and compete for catches with bigger DBs. More importantly, Watkins is arguably the most polished route-running in this class, and he has shown that he can run an NFL route tree and win on screens, “9” routes, outs, crosses, flags, fades, and just about any route you can name.
And yet, he still feels a chip on his shoulder when it comes to route-running, because he knows that there are some people with the audacity to believe that Watkins can’t run anything other than screen and hitch routes. Here’s what he told The State’s Josh Kendall, “They say I can’t run routes, so I definitely have to show them that I am probably one of the best receivers at running routes in the combine.”
Some might say that Watkins showed hubris at the end of that quote, but his confidence is right on. He probably is the best WR in the class when it comes to route-running- which is the most important trade at the position, even if some old-school guys preach “hands, hands, hands”- and hopefully will prove those doubters wrong this week. Honestly, who cares about he 40 time? We know he’s fast, and that’s not going to change no matter what he runs that day.
Tape > Combine.
For some great reading on Watkins, check out this excellent piece from Matt Waldman.