Sammy Watkins, WR/KR, Clemson


Bills, Round 1. 

Positives: adequate height for the position and above-average bulk. Above-average hand size. Above-average speed. Accelerates well off the line and after the catch and has quick feet off the line to get away from press coverage. Excellent hands, and extends well and consistently. Highpoints passes well, and makes difficult catches seem easy. Can catch passes even when defender hits him at the same time. Tracks deep passes well over his inside shoulder. Above-average routes and is quick in and out of his breaks. Good vertical leap and will win jump-ball situations. Creative, with good vision in the open field to find yards after the catch. Above-average balance after contact. Patient runner after the catch and is very effective getting yards after the catch. Decisive in the open field and will get upfield quickly after receptions and on returns. Very willing to be physical and throw body around, and usually fights hard for extra yards. Pretty good kick-return decisions. Very experienced at wide-receiver screen plays. Above-average upper body strength.

Negatives: Not a great route runner – seems to telegraph when he’s making a cut. Though he fights for yards, he isn’t strong enough to break tackles for more yards after contact. And though he usually seemed tough in college, he seemed leery of contact in Clemson’s 2014 bowl game and was too willing to duck out of bounds instead of lowering his shoulder for more yards. Was he worried about the draft? Below-average vertical leap, lateral quickness, and ability to change directions in Combine testing, though that all seems like an aberration from his game tape. Also shows suspect ball-security technique. Drug arrest in 2012.

Projection: Before the draft, I projected him to go in the first eight picks, so I’m not surprised he went at number four. He has a lot of elite receiving skills and was consistently and excellently productive in college. He joins a WR corps in Buffalo that’s improving – with Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Steve Johnson, and Marquise Goodwin – and only gets a lot better with the addition of Watkins. However, he does come with questions about his character and how Clemson’s passing game translates to the NFL. He should be a solid immediate starter, regardless, and he could start at any wide-receiver position on the Bills. He’d be especially effective out of the slot, where he can more easily get the ball away from coverage to let him run free. He had added a huge playmaking component to an offense that needed it, and, in dynasty rookie drafts, he’s worth a top-two pick as an immediate WR2 with WR1 potential by year two.

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