NFL Draft 2012: Would Sammy Watkins Be a First-Round Pick If Eligible in 2012?

Jeffrey SchmidtCorrespondent IIINovember 3, 2011

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 24:  Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tiger against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Clemson Tigers are playing some great football. The school is having one of the most storied years in its history as far as football is concerned, and true freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been a tremendous reason why.

The 6'1", 190-pound Watkins was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school and was a unanimous national top-50 recruit by all recruiting services.

Watkins attended South Fort Myers High School in Fort Myers, Fla. ranked him as the No. 9 player in the nation, the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation and the No. 4 player in Florida. 

He set Lee County records with 133 catches for 2,997 yards and 36 touchdowns during his career, as well as receiving the honor of playing in the U.S. Army All-American game. 

Watkins had more than 20 Division I offers that were entertained his way, and it took him until that game to decide. Florida (where his brother Jaylen attends), Florida State, Michigan and Miami, were some of the offers that were entertained to the Southwest Florida product. 

Watkins ultimately chose the Clemson Tigers. 

The Tigers brought in one of the nation's top recruiting classes this season. The class totaled four players from Florida, including another Southwest Florida star, running back Mike Bellamy. 

Bellamy was ranked as the No. 25 player in the nation by Rivals, the No. 5 RB and the No. 7 player in Florida.

Here is an excerpt from a Naples Daily News story that explains why the wide receiver preferred Clemson over all the rest.

“I really like the atmosphere up there, the coaches and the team," Watkins said. "It’s an all-around good school where I can get a good education.”

“(Clemson coach Dabo Swinney) said that it is really up to me how soon I get playing time. I’m looking to start right away, and he told me that is up to me and how hard I work.”

“He really likes the kids up there, and the coaches," South coach Grant Redhead said. "He Is not crazy about being in the spotlight, but he just feels really comfortable up there.”

Watkins seems to have made the right decision. The team owns the fifth-ranked offense in the nation with Watkins emerging as its main weapon, which also led to early Heisman Trophy consideration for the freshman.

The receiver is ranked seventh in receiving yards with 978 as well as being tied for second in the country with 10 touchdown receptions. He also has been a factor in the return game with an average of 26.6 yards per return to go along with one touchdown.

Watkins is undoubtedly one of the best players in the nation, which brings up the question of whether or not he would be a first-round pick if he were eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft.

The obvious answer to me is yes.

I would not only take Watkins in the first round, I would certainly consider taking him in the top five.

The receiver catches everything thrown his way while also possessing an excellent combination of size and speed. Watkins has shown his ability to turn a short pass into major yardage, all while having the ability to burn a defense down the field.

Watkins reminds me of Jeremy Maclin during his time at Missouri, but I think Watkins is already a better prospect.

Watkins has the potential to become the first wide receiver taken No. 1 overall since Keyshawn Johnson in 1996, but that time is still far into the future.

Keep an eye out for Watkins over the next few years, because we may be looking at one of college football's all-time greatest players when his career is all said and done.