Sammy Watkins was considered one of the top talents in this year's NFL draft. Now, he'll have the chance to prove it with the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills are suddenly rife with weapons for young quarterback EJ Manuel. They have Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller at running back, while Watkins now leads a receiving corps that includes Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, Mike Williams and Marquise Goodwin.
Look out, NFL.
Of course, drafting Watkins could mean that Stevie Johnson is on the way out, per Michael Fabiano of NFL.com notes:
With Sammy Watkins in Buffalo, you have to think Stevie Johnson could be done there. Also have Woods and Williams at WR.— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) May 9, 2014
There's no question Watkins will become a primary weapon in this offense immediately. From the sound of it, the Bills were enamored with his talent, as team president Russ Brandon and general manager Doug Whaley told Mike Rodak of ESPN after the selection:
Brandon: “We’re sitting up here very pleased right now.” Says they feel Watkins can contribute right away.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 9, 2014
Whaley: “Very high cost. But we felt like it was a calculated cost but a risk we were willing to take.” Says Watkins —> Bills to playoffs— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 9, 2014
Whaley: “[Watkins] was the highest rated player on our board."— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 9, 2014
When you give up your No. 9 pick and a fourth-rounder this year and first-rounder next year, you better love a guy. And you better get him involved in the offense instantly, too.
Generally speaking, wide receivers often need more of an adjustment period than players at other offensive positions. It can take a while to learn a new route tree, develop chemistry with the team's quarterback and learn the intricacies of complex NFL coverages.
There's the old cliche that in college quarterbacks can throw to open receivers, but in the NFL they have to throw into open windows and trust their receiver will be there. It's more an anticipation game, and learning how to be in that exact window at the precise moment required can be a task fraught with growing pains for wideouts.
But because of Watkins' diverse skill set, he should make a pretty quick adjustment to the NFL game. The Bills can immediately involve him by hitting him on quick outs and wide receiver screens, while he can also be used on streaks down the field with his ability to get behind a defense.
Watkins also seems like the type of guy who won't completely buy his own hype, who will come in and work and look to make an instant impact. He's the type of guy who will want to be the offensive Rookie of the Year. That's a good sign for the Bills.
Still, there are a lot of weapons on this offense, and Manuel will have to spread the ball around. It would probably be wise to temper your expectations for Watkins in his rookie year despite his immense talent, as the Bills carve out a role for him.
Think something in the ball park of 65 receptions for 750 yards and seven touchdowns. He'll give opposing defenses pause. He'll make a lot of plays after the catch. He'll be a big part of the game plan. But he'll probably need a year or two before he's a true, legitimate No. 1 receiver in this league.
But he'll get there. The Bills certainly believe so.