Sammy Watkins is the most coveted wide receiver in the 2014 NFL draft. He has the size, skill and intangibles to make the best out of any situation, even if that situation isn't necessarily the best for him.
Watkins fits the profile of multiple teams at the top of the draft. His 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013 speak for themselves. The Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders are just a sampling of the teams that have been projected to draft the Clemson standout.
Watkins could be one of the best receiver prospects of the last decade, according to the NFL Network's Mike Mayock:
Mayock on Sammy Watkins: "He's one of the best wide receivers I've seen on tape in the last 10 years." http://t.co/6n7b0Cn3Ow— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) March 6, 2014
Watkins will be treasured no matter where he goes, but not every situation is the ideal fit for him to reach his full potential. Let's take a look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for Watkins on draft day.
Best-Case Scenario: Detroit Lions
This scenario isn't the most likely because it involves the Lions making some shrewd draft-day maneuvers, but it is the best situation possible for Watkins.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport relayed the news that Watkins to the Detroit Lions is a real possibility:
From talking with Sammy Watkins today: The #Lions have made it clear to him they are very serious about potentially trading up for him.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 6, 2014
The Lions would likely be neglecting their weak secondary by trading up out of their No. 10 spot for Watkins, but he's the cant-miss prospect who could take their offense over the top. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew praised Watkins and said his team is looking for a player who can "make a 5-yard play into a 90-yard play," according to Dan Hanzus of NFL.com.
Watkins will be shielded from ridiculous expectations by playing behind the supremely talented Calvin Johnson. Even with the spotlight permanently affixed elsewhere, Watkins will have plenty of opportunity to start at wide receiver.
Golden Tate signed a five-year contract and is the only positive addition to that wafer-thin receiving corps. Nate Burleson is now a member of the Cleveland Browns
The Lions, like most NFL teams now, are likely to run plenty of three- and four-wide receiver sets, and Watkins could fit in as a slot receiver early on while learning how to play on the outside as a first- or second-choice receiving threat.
Matthew Stafford is an established quarterback who should have no trouble finding Watkins against NFL defenses. The Lions' high-volume pass offense is also balanced by the rushing capabilities of Reggie Bush.
Watkins won't stand out right away in Detroit, but the Lions are the best bet for him to mature at a reasonable pace and be set up for long-term success.
Worst-Case Scenario: Jacksonville Jaguars
Will Brinson of CBSSports.com has this doomsday scenario in his mock draft.
Sure, the third pick in the draft might be the best-case scenario for Watkins' bank account, but it isn't the best thing for him as a developing player.
For starters, the Jaguars are pretty much bereft of capable starters at every offensive position. The team averaged 15.4 points per game in 2013, worst in the league. The offense also proved to be incapable of getting in a rhythm, something that is crucial for young wide receivers as they need to get plenty of repetitions. The Jaguars were second-to-last in the league in time of possession in 2013 and averaged 2:24 per drive, 30th in the league, according SportingCharts.com
At quarterback, Chad Henne is a stopgap solution more than anything. At 28 years old and with 61 games under his belt, he's highly unlikely to pull a Vinny Testaverde and become a quality starting quarterback over the next year or two. His career 75.3 quarterback rating attests to that.
Which team would be the best fit for Sammy Watkins
Drafting Watkins would be stranding him without a quality quarterback for at least a season or two. As far as a solid wide receiver corps to surround him goes, the Jaguars don't have any buffer for Watkins and he would immediately shoulder the load in this area.
Justin Blackmon is supremely talented, but Jaguars GM David Caldwell believes it would be a "luxury" if they had him back from suspension in 2014, according to Marc Sessler of NFL.com.
Maurice Jones-Drew departed for the Oakland Raiders, leaving question marks in the Jaguars backfield. Jones-Drew was the focal point of the offense in Jacksonville for years, and Watkins would immediately feel pressure to become the savior in 2014.