This is the start to a project I’ll be completing before the start of the 2014 season. As the title suggests, I’ll be listing 14 bold predictions for the upcoming season. Some of them might be outlandish, but that’s why they’re called bold predictions and not safe assumptions.
When the Buffalo Bills traded up to the number four spot to land Sammy Watkins, they obviously saw something truly special in the talented Clemson wideout. By landing Watkins, the Bills believe they could possibly have a sturdy quarterback receiver duo for at least the next ten years.
The big question is whether or not Watkins can live up to the hype.
So far in practice, Watkins has been absolutely phenomenal. The rookie has made spectacular catch after spectacular catch. Watkins has all the physical tools, and perhaps more importantly, he has all the mental tools as well. Watkins understands his hard work has helped lead him to the NFL, but he also understands that he’ll have to work even harder to make an impact at the professional level. An example of Watkins’ work ethic is how he consistently arrives early for practice, something rather unheard of from a rookie. Although Watkins struggled in his first real game, and only amassed 21 yards on three catches in his second game, I don’t think there’s any reason why Watkins won’t become a stud in this league.
Sammy Watkins is the best player on the Bills offense not named C.J. Spiller. Expect Watkins’ rookie year stats to be somewhere in the ballpark of 1,110 yards and six touchdowns.
In Buffalo’s first game against the Giants, Watkins was playing against one of the better secondaries in the NFL. Not exactly an easy opening day. His quarterback EJ Manuel also looked timid in the pocket, which led to some less than perfect throws. In his second game, Watkins and Manuel looked a lot more comfortable with each other. They were on the same page a lot of the time, and the timing was very adept.
Manuel connected with Watkins on a post, a slant and an out route. The duo looked sharp. Even though the Bills acquired Mike Williams, make no doubt about it, Sammy Watkins is the undisputed number one receiver.
Buffalo will try to utilize Watkins as much as they possibly can.Watkins has a guy that can deliver him the ball and help him become great. Some will write off Watkins as a OROTY candidate due to, “shaky quarterback play,” but people tend to forget that Manuel didn’t necessarily have a bad rookie year. He wasn’t amazing, yet he wasn’t dreadful. A year into the system should help him immensely. Everyone in the Bills front office has faith in Manuel, and I’m sure Watkins does as well.
While the two are still trying to fine tune their chemistry, they should be ready to go come week one. Even if Manuel does get hurt, the Bills will still do everything they possibly can to get the ball in Watkins’ hands, and Watkins should still put up good numbers. Why? Because to win in the NFL you get the ball to your best, most explosive players. Right now, Sammy Watkins is the best player on the Bills offense not named C.J. Spiller. Expect Watkins’ rookie year stats to be somewhere in the ballpark of 1,100 yards and six touchdowns.
Newly inducted Hall of Fame member Andre Reed shared his thoughts on the Manuel-Watkins duo to nfl.com’s Dave Dameshek. “He (Watkins) reminds me of me. I really like his style. Big, fast guy that can make people miss. They got a guy that can get the ball to him (Manuel).” If the Manuel to Watkins connection can even come close to rivaling the Jim Jelly to Andre Reed connection, everyone in Buffalo will be ecstatic.
Even if the connection fails to captivate the entire NFL in 2014, the amount of opportunities Sammy Watkins will be given will help him win Offensive Rookie of the Year, as well help him earn a trip to the Pro Bowl.