Clemson Tigers star wide receiver Sammy Watkins is most likely one of the five most talented prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up a top five pick. I have him going between picks five and ten, and there’s no doubt that he’s the best wide receiver in a deep and talented class at the position, as well as a sure-fire top ten pick overall.
I always find it difficult to compare Watkins’s game to an NFL receiver’s game, because Watkins is such a unique player. He’s short, but he plays much bigger than his height due to his leaping ability and willingness to make plays in traffic. Watkins is explosive, fast, and agile, but he’s also a savvy route-runner who doesn’t make mind-numbing mental mistakes. He worked frequently off of screens, but he was also deadly on more complicated and deeper routes and was largely underused on those plays due to Clemson’s desire to hide some of Tajh Boyd’s weaknesses.
Anyway, Watkins is a unique and elite wide receiver prospect, and he is going to be an immediate impact player for somebody. The NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks tweeted this morning that Watkins compared “his game” to Baltimore Ravens star wide receiver Torrey Smith, and there are similarities between both players. Like Smith, Watkins is an explosive athlete with excellent speed and can stretch the field deep, but I also think Watkins is the better player due to his strength, route-running, and more consistent play. Smith is a very good WR for sure, but Watkins is even better and is better coming out of college than Smith was. Smith was also awful as a rookie due to his drops and mental errors, but he has significantly improved in each season in the league to the point where he is now unquestionably an elite WR2 or lower-end WR1.