Sammy Watkins' Best Fits in Thursday's First Round of NFL Draft

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2014

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins catches a ball as he warms up during the Clemson football pro day on Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press

While some NFL draft hopefuls lean on the perfect fit to find pro success, Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins has the look of a superstar in no need of help via location.

It still can't hurt.

By most accounts, Watkins will be gone in the top five come Thursday. The worst-case scenario seems to be the top 10. Within those 10 selections, there are a few destinations that appear more favorable for Watkins based on numerous reasons. They are as follows.


Detroit Lions

Watkins is scary enough on his own, but if he turns out to be a No. 1 target, the NFL game may fluster him to start his career, as defenses will throw everything they have his way.

That wouldn't be the case in Detroit, where the opposition has to zero in on Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate in one of the NFL's most explosive passing attacks—without Watkins.

The Lions pick at No. 10 overall, but there have been rumblings that the front office would like to move up in the proceedings to secure Watkins' rights. Watkins told Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo that the Lions have told him about the potential move:

Yeah, they've been telling me they would make that move. You really don't know. They could just be telling you lies for all I know, but they showed they have great interest in me. I met the team (vice chairman Bill Ford Jr.), the GM (Martin Mayhew), just about everybody. So it's like kind of serious.

He also noted that playing with a guy like Johnson would allow him to adapt as the No. 2 and help both in terms of defensive coverage:

He's the best receiver in the game the last two or three years. It would definitely help both of us with coverages. I would probably help him out just as well as he'd help me, and I would just learn from him. I mean, he's the best wide receiver in the game right now.

If I'm in that position, I think I can hold my weight down but if I can go to the Rams or Detroit Lions, I would rather be that No. 2 or No. 3 and I could start playing myself into the team instead of going there and trying to be a superhero.

It has to be a tantalizing prospect for Watkins, who would go from idolizing Johnson to learning from him and benefiting from his presence. Above all else, Watkins' ideal locale is Detroit.


Cleveland Browns

That said, Cleveland is not a horrible fallback option.

Unlike Detroit, there isn't an offense in place that will consistently rank in the top five in terms of pass attempts per year, and for the time being, there is not a star quarterback to dole out the rock.

But there is Josh Gordon and a franchise that may turn things around sooner rather than later.

As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport details, the likelihood of Cleveland making Watkins the pick at No. 4 overall has not been transparent based on the team's behavior:

Of course, general manager Ray Farmer has played with the logistics of the pick publicly, per's Marc Sessler:

Farmer's on to something. Regardless of who resides under center, Gordon is similar to Johnson in that he will soak up loads of coverage and make Watkins' life easier, not to mention give him plenty of opportunities to see the ball and make plays after the catch.

Even better, Watkins would get a wealth of credit for helping to turn around a dysfunctional franchise, should that happen. Any way sliced, Cleveland is a great option.


St. Louis Rams 

With options like Jacksonville and Oakland not ideal and places like Atlanta not entirely feasible, St. Louis is the third-best option for the electric Clemson wideout.

In theory, Watkins would pair with Tavon Austin and wreak havoc on the league. But as analyst Russ Lande points out, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Austin's production last year may be a red flag:

But this guy, Watkins, is a game-changing player to me. I think if you look at the Rams, one of their biggest issues is they don’t have playmakers.

The only thing that would concern me about taking Watkins high is that Austin is a dynamic playmaker, and their coaches couldn’t figure out how to use him properly. So are they gonna know how to use this kid properly?

It's a legit concern, but one that should not bother Watkins all that much. Head coach Jeff Fisher and Co. have to learn from past mistakes in that regard, and Sam Bradford will find a way to get the ball in his hands. 

While not as attractive as the other two, St. Louis offers a sound quarterback and supporting cast that includes a formidable ground game. As a rookie looking to smoothly transition and excel right away, the Rams are a great option.


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