As of today, the number of early declarations of underclassmen heading into the NFL is staggering, especially at the receiver position.
Just about 20 wideouts are taking their talents to the pro level, which is very good news for receiver-needy teams but not so good for some of these players.
Some will get pushed down over others and, for a few, this will be a make or break draft process.
On a positive note, almost all of the receivers offer good potential to succeed and will more than likely get at least one chance to prove their worth to hopeful teams.
By Dillon Smith – Lead NFL Writer – @DillonSmithNFL
The consensus number one wideout in this class is, without a doubt, Sammy Watkins.
The Clemson product has so many strengths in his game that there are almost no negatives that one can point out. Standing at 6ft 1in and weighing in at 205 lbs, Watkins is a dynamic playmaker and sure-handed receiver who will burn you deep if you give him an inch.
So many times over the course of this season, we saw Sammy make defensive backs look silly, even if he was double or even triple covered. Watkins is a dangerous weapon for any team and is sure to receive a call within the first several picks of this May’s draft.
Lets take a look at what makes Sammy Watkins so good at what he does.
101 Receptions, 1,464 receiving yards, avg. 14.5 yards, 14 touchdowns.
The first thing that I noticed when studying Watkins were his strong hands. Numerous times, Watkins snagged a ball that was thrown a little too high or a little too far in front or behind him with relative ease. His strong hands are a big factor when it comes to making a difficult catch in tight coverage.
Sammy is a more than proficient route runner and shows to have a good grasp on where to go if the quarterback is moving outside the pocket, like finding soft spots in zone coverage, if the play breaks down.
One of the best traits that Watkins brings along with him is hIS aggressiveness after he makes the catch. When you watch him after he makes the grab, while he doesn’t go looking for contact regularly, he will put his head down and try to run through them if he feels the need. The physicality and power that Watkins runs with is one of my favourite aspects of his game, just because it is so fun and refreshing to see a receiver bring the hit onto a defender instead of the other way around.
If Watkins running over guys after he makes the catch wasn’t good enough for you, there is plenty more where that came from. With such a quick burst out of breaks and speed to burn just about any defensive back, he showcases the ability to take it to the house if targeted deep down the field. Should any poor and unlucky cornerback or safety find themselves in one-on-one coverage with Watkins, they would need to make sure that they give him plenty of space because they can’t afford to give up ground to him.
The only big knock on Watkins’ game that I could find was his inability to separate from a cornerback off of a jam. He has shown that he will, at times, find it difficult to release off of an aggressive corner who jams him at the line of scrimmage but can work on his strength over the offseason.
Aside from this little hiccup, Watkins is just about all you could ask for and more in a big playmaking receiver. Defenses will be hard-pressed to keep him in check and might need to slide an extra defender over to help out the secondary come next fall.