Sammy Watkins is one of the top wide receiver talents in the upcoming draft class, and he showed why during an outstanding performance at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
The Clemson star was already a first-round lock going into the Indianapolis-based event and appears poised for a top-10 selection now that he has solidified his status as a top prospect at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The table below shows how Watkins performed in all the measureables and drills as of Sunday:
|Height||Weight||Arm Length||Hand Size|
|6’1”||211 lbs.||32”||9 5/8”|
|40-Yard Dash||Bench Press||Vertical Leap||Broad Jump|
|20 Yard Shuttle|
Watkins blazed through the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds (unofficial, later changed to 4.43 seconds), which impressed the curators of the NFL Twitter feed:
The league's Twitter feed also posted a video of Watkins' performances on Sunday at the combine:
Kyle Meinke of MLive.com compared Watkins' string of false starts to Denard Robinson's, but said that similarities between the two end there:
Sammy Watkins pulling a Denard Robinson and false-starting on both 40s. First and only time those guys will ever be compared.— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) February 23, 2014
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the star wideout was hoping to break records before he ran the 40-yard dash:
Sammy Watkins on what he'll run tomorrow: "Looking to run something crazy, hopefully break that combine record."— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) February 22, 2014
While he didn’t accomplish that, Watkins' official time of 4.43 seconds in the event was tied for fifth best of all the receivers who participated. He may not be the tallest or fastest receiver in the upcoming class, but he was arguably the most productive during his collegiate career and is a game-changer.
The 20-year-old finished his three-year tenure with the Tigers having hauled in 240 receptions for 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns. He recorded 101 catches, 1,464 yards and 12 scores during his junior campaign alone and clearly has what it takes to dominate at the next level.
Mike Mayock of NFL Network tried to explain what separates Watkins from the rest of the pack during a conference call, as per Pat McManamon of ESPN.com:
He’s got a little attitude about him. He blocks people. You can see him getting (angry) during games and going after corners and safeties and linebackers.
So he’s got an attitude like he wants to be the best player there is, and when you combine that with his physical ability I think it’s awesome.
Watkins uses that attitude in combination with his elite playmaking skills to impose his will and take over a game at a moment’s notice. It’s something he loves to do, according to Taylor Price of 49ers.com:
It seems that the only question that remains unanswered is where this prodigy will wind up. Watkins took the time to address a few situations that could arise come draft day.
According to McManamon, the wideout had this to say about potentially playing alongside Josh Gordon as a member of the Cleveland Browns:
I think Josh Gordon is probably one of the top receivers in the NFL. He led receivers this year with 1,700 yards. I’d kind of take the pressure off of him with being double-covered or them flipping coverage to his side. It’d be a nightmare for (defenses) to match up.”
Meinke provided an additional quote from Watkins on the possibility of playing with Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions: "That's the best situation to go into, because then you're looking at a great player every week. He's teaching you the ropes, breaking down film of the other other guys. So that'd be a great transition."
With what pick will Watkins be drafted?
The Browns are slated to pick No. 4 overall and the Lions have a selection shortly after at No. 10 overall. They might not even have a chance at selecting him, as there has been some talk that the St. Louis Rams could use their No. 2 overall pick on Watkins.
Watkins is a rare wide receiver talent that is well worth a top-10 selection and should end up being remembered as one of the best players to come out of this draft class.
While his combine performance didn't break any records, he turned some heads with a blazing 40-yard dash to complement his superior production in college. He's on the right path to becoming the next great wide receiver at the NFL level and should be an instrumental part of an offense come the fall.