Oakland Raiders: Don't Sleep on Todd Watkins

Jeff LittleSenior Writer IMay 18, 2008

Who is Todd Watkins?


Todd Watkins was a free-agent wide receiver that the Raiders claimed off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons. He spent the majority of 2007 on the Falcons' practice squad. This provides you some background; still doesn’t answer the question.


To answer this question we need to go back a little further. In his early years of high-school athletics—Todd Watkins was a multi-sport athlete at Helix High School in San Diego, California. He lettered in football, volleyball, soccer, and track; he was the first athlete in 25 years to accomplish that feat at Helix High.


As a football player he earned All-County Honors during his junior and senior seasons. His teammates included current NFL stars Reggie Bush and Alex Smith; the team won the 2000 San Diego Section Division II CIF Football Championship. His teammates had scholarships and were off to USC and University of Utah.


Watkins wasn’t as fortunate and enrolled at Norfolk State, but redshirted during 2001 season. He later transferred to Grossmont (California) Junior College and played in 10 games during the 2002 season.


His numbers were modest at best as a wide receiver; he finished with 11 receptions for 299 yards and four touchdowns. His most significant contribution to the team was as a place kicker: he made 10-of-11 field goals and 46 of 49 PAT kicks.


His second season at Grossmont is when Watkins elevated his performance as a wide receiver. He caught 40 passes for 915 yards and eight touchdowns, leading the Griffins to a 13-1 record and the Foothill Valley Conference championship.


As a placekicker, he made 12-of-15 field goals and 50-of-51 PAT kicks. He scored a total of 134 points (combined receiving and kicking) which was the highest total in the conference.


He was named the Offensive Player of the year for 2003, and even received First Team All-American recognition from JC Gridwire and Junior College Athletic Bureau.


Watkins transferred to Brigham Young University in 2004 and instantly became a starter at wide receiver. BYU opened the season against Notre Dame, and Watkins made an immediate impact.


His first reception as a Cougar was a terrific 50-yard catch against double coverage; the play set up a touchdown on BYU’s first possession of the game.


Late in the fourth quarter of that game, Watkins made another tremendous grab, a 37-yarder that sealed the Cougars’ 20-17 victory.


Todd Watkins gained national media attention with a spectacular performance against Boise State in the fourth game of the season. Held in check by Broncos in the first half, he was unstoppable in the second half. He finished the game with nine receptions for 211 yards.


He caught a 79-yard touchdown pass from John Beck in the third quarter, and a 52-yard grab in the fourth quarter. BYU lost the game, but Todd Watkins had established himself as a dangerous weapon for the Cougars.


He finished the season with 52 receptions for 1,042 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 94.7 yards receiving per game, a Mountain West Conference record.


He averaged 20 yards per reception—impressive enough that Sports Illustrated named him the best deep threat in the nation.


What if he became the best deep threat in the Raider Nation? He does have experience giving the Broncos fits.


Prior to his senior season, catching the attention of pro scouts, he was considered the third-best wide receiver in the class behind Santonio Holmes and Greg Lee. “The best receiver in school history in the best receiver on the board; virtual flawless.” – Lindy’s Sports


The expectations were extremely high going into his senior season. However, a cruel twist of fate seems to have happen to the fast kid from San Diego, California. BYU had a new head coach (Bronco Mendenhall) and a new offensive coordinator (Robert Anae). BYU’s offense relied heavily on shorter passing routes, and quarterback John Beck threw fewer deep passes to Watkins.


BYU also lost freshman, star receiver Austin Collie, the opposing defenses then focused their pass coverage strictly on Todd Watkins. He was often double-teamed, sometimes he even saw the rare triple-team; his statistics dropped in 2005 as a result.


He put up respectable numbers, finishing the season with 49 receptions for 678 yards, 13.8 yards per catch and a team-high nine touchdowns. The seven receptions for 176 yards and three touchdown performance against TCU was his best game as a senior.     


In a sense, his star power decreased in one year; he was now the No.20 ranked WR in the class. The 6’3” 191 lbs. WR was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the seventh round.   


If I’m asked who’s Todd Watkins? I’ll sound like Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction fame; "Well allow me to retort".


He is a deep-threat receiver that has the top-end speed teams must respect. He’s run a 4.28 forty, and has been turning heads in the Raiders' OTAs, catching several passes.


He is the ultimate sleeper pick, no longer buried on the depth chart behind the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Bryant Johnson.


He could provide the much needed dimension that the Raiders haven’t seen in a while, and allow JaMarcus Russell to display his legendary arm strength.


He is a excellent all-around athlete and a productive player who has something to prove to this coaching staff, and the NFL.


He is taking well to James Lofton’s coaching, and if his development continues, he could be the best deep-threat in the Raider Nation, giving you more than one reason not to sleep on Todd Watkins.