Sammy Watkins proves he’s a star in the making

January 4th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

What a way for Sammy Watkins to head into the NFL.

16 catches, 227 yards and a couple of touchdowns helped Clemson defeat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl (40-35).

It was the performance of a star in the making. A display that should solidify a top ten grade.

A former 5-star recruit who was a big catch for Clemson in 2011, he had an immediate impact as a true freshman (82 catches, 1219 yards and 12 touchdowns).

He had to get through a challenging sophomore year. He was arrested in May 2012 and charged with possession of a controlled substance and simple possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors. As a consequence he started the season serving a two-game suspension and it allowed DeAndre Hopkins to become the focal point of the Tigers’ passing game.

When he needed to show up big as a junior, and maybe grow up a little bit, Watkins delivered.

The Clemson coaches have had to push him along. On more than one occasion they’ve been vocal (and public) about him delivering on his massive potential.

Eventually the light switched on. And what we’re left with is an ultra-competitive, highly skilled explosive athlete.

This is what he brings to the table:

- Fantastic body control — Watkins is such a smooth runner. He never seems to get out of position and he adjusts to the ball perfectly. He’s very loose and can change direction easily. This is an underrated skill. Just look at the way Kelvin Benjamin ties himself up in knots trying to turn quickly and adjust to the ball. It helps that Watkins has a more compact frame, but he makes the most of it. As a consequence most of his routes are run crisply and this’ll help him make a quick impact at the next level.

- Superb hands — I’ll be very interested to check out how big they are at the combine. The ball just gets swallowed up in those mitts — you rarely see him juggle a pass or double catch. He can high point the football, he can grab it away from his body. Watkins will be a consistent hands catcher at the next level, a great red zone threat despite only being 6-1 and he’ll make his fair share of third down conversions.

- Elite speed — Whether he’s running a downfield route or taking a screen, Watkins has the potential to be a true difference maker. He can take the top of a defense, but he’s also going to be a big time threat on screens, reverses and the occasional end-around. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ran in the 4.3′s at the combine. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s a much more accomplished, rounded player than Tavon Austin — and he was a top ten pick last year.

- Excellent football IQ — DeAndre Hopkins was a student of the game. During interviews he’d regularly quote specific routes when detailing plays. He’d discuss what a defense was showing and how he exploited the call to make a catch. Watkins has picked up these habits. I’m not sure many people realise how switched on Watkins is. Clemson do a good job coaching their receivers.

- He’s the ultimate competitor — Another Hopkins cross-over. Both players seem to love the game. You HAVE to be this way to be a great receiver. You can’t coast. You can’t play at your own speed. Corner’s are getting bigger, tougher and faster. Thank the Seahawks for that. Receivers have to bring it. They must have an edge. Watkins has it in spades, just like Mike Evans and Marqise Lee. And it’s why all three should be top ten picks.

The term ‘complete player’ is thrown around too often, but in Watkins’ case it’s absolutely true.

There are some teams picking in the top ten who need a quarterback. This guy will make them second guess what they’re going to do.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we see Watkins going in the top-five — just like A.J. Green in 2011 — to a team who is willing to wait until round two to get a quarterback.

Whichever signal caller ends up with Sammy Watkins should count his blessings.

This guy is legit.

45 Responses to “Sammy Watkins proves he’s a star in the making”

  1. CHawk Talker Eric says:

    That was a statement performance by Watkins. Truly amazing.

    Bryant also had an amazing TD catch.

    And Beasley and Shuey both had big games on D.

    I’ve seen some truly excellent college football this week.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Does anybody know the status of KJ Wright or Luke Willson going into next weekend? Also, was that Phil Bates I saw in the Seahawks daily video, did he get resigned on the practice squad? Anybody know? Thanks

    • David Ess says:

      think hes been on the roster all year (bates i mean) i am pretty sure . and KJ will most likely miss next weeks game and Luke has a chance to play next week.

    • David M says:

      It sounds like Luke Willson will play. he was practicing slightly yesterday. Pete said he was out running around and doing some slight cuts on that ankle. And K.J. Wright will be out for our next game, but if we win that and move on, pete said he should be ready to play.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Wright is out. They’re hoping Willson will be good to go.

  3. MJ says:

    I know that this is an amazing year for WRs and that a trade up wouldnt happen, but man…how would it not be worth it to make a Julio trade for this guy? If we retained Michael Bennett and a few other guys, why not take a shot like that?

    The Harvin trade handcuffed us a bit, but how would Watkins not be the missing piece? This offensebcould probably bump up to the low 30s for PPG. I know I’m dreaming but realistically, our corps is in place and I would love to see the FO just kinda say screw it, let’s go for it.

    Ok, I’m going to stop dreaming now.

  4. Kenny Sloth says:

    Interested to see the measurements on Vic Beasley. Looks kinda stubby. Stubby doesn’t translate very well to pass rusher.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Stubby? Can you explain what this means Kenny?

      To me he looks explosive — great first step and speed off the edge. The issue is a lack of great size. As we’ve seen with Irvin, speed is great but you need to be able to get off a block.

      • Kenny Sloth says:

        Right. Length. He looks like he has short arms and doesn’t seem to get off blocks with pure hand fighting ability.
        He looks very explosive and quick off the ball to me, too, but he looks like Melvin Ingram to me.

      • oz says:

        Shuey was an impact player. I like the depth at LB in this draft. That kid at Colorado State is a ball stripping turnover machine. UCLA has a good one coming out too.

  5. Glor says:

    If the hawks knew what they know now, do they still make the harvin trade? I think not.. Hind sight 20/20

    • Matt says:

      I bet you they would. This is only one season and it’s not even over yet.

      • Michael M. says:

        I think with hindsight they keep the pick and take Hopkins or Patterson. How much easier would it be to keep Bennett, Tate, etc. if we’re paying one of those rookies peanuts instead of paying Percy?

        • Rob Staton says:

          It’d be easier… but PC has history with Harvin and clearly felt that was a big move he had to make. I really liked Hopkins… and Patterson is a nice scoring threat.. but neither have the potential to be a truly elite difference maker like Harvin. Let’s hope we see that quality in the post season.

          • Mattk says:

            Rob, I’m curious how you measure the potential to be an elite difference maker if you don’t view Patterson as one of those guys. Physically, there’s not many receivers who can match what he did coming out of college.

            • Rob Staton says:

              It’s all about consistency, attitude and technique.

              As an athlete, Patterson is great. He will have huge big plays throughout his career. He is a threat to score every time the ball’s in his hands.

              However — he also has too many mental errors, games where he’s anonymous, he’s not technically a great hands catcher or a guy who always plucks the ball out of the air. I don’t get a vibe that says he has the kind of personality you tend to find from dominating receivers in the league. He’s extremely laid back.

              As a rookie he had 469 total receiving yards — but 141 came in one game against Baltimore. In 11 games he had less than 25 yards receiving. He only had more than three catches in three games.

              He’s very streaky and that’ll continue for me.

              Harvin on the other hand is an ultimate competitor on the field and always has been. He’s a lot more consistent. He’s “pissed off for greatness” as they say. He just needs to stay healthy.

              To compare statistically, when Minnesota were awful in 2010 and had a joke of a QB situation… he still managed 868 yards as a second year player in just 14 games.

              I’m not envious of Minnesota in the slightest. Patterson is a guy who can score at any moment. But Harvin can be a MVP candidate when healthy.

              • Mattk says:

                Thanks for the reply, Rob. Especially the line, “pissed off for greatness.” I hadn’t heard that before. I think it captures Harvin’s attitude quite well.

                I can’t argue against attitude being a quality of potential, but I have to disagree with consistency and technique being a qualifier. To me those are two things that can come with experience and playing time.

                Golden Tate is the great example of a player who lacked those his first year, but has developed those during his time in Seattle, even scoring more receiving TDs (7) in one season than Harvin has so far (6).

                Patterson has a long ways to go, but comparing the statistic year two of Harvin with Brett Farve as his QB to Patterson his rookie year with Ponder/Cassell is a bit unfair (and I’m sure Greg Jennings would agree.)

                I didn’t really mean to debate Harvin vs. Patterson, but mostly wanted to see how you measure potential as we head into the draft filled with so many receivers. Cheers.

              • troy says:

                “laid back”? What exactly does that mean? Cause one might refer to a few other WRs in the same light… Marvin Harrison, Jerry Rice, Steve Largent,
                Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Don Hutson, Sterling Sharpe, Calvin Johnson, Lance Alworth, Wes Welker, Harold Carmichael, Tory Holt, Art Monk, Eric Decker, Paul Warfield, Jordy Nelson, Lynn Swann, Josh Gordon, Andre Johnson, Danny Amendola.

                • Rob Staton says:

                  Come on, nobody would ever describe Larry Fitzgerald as laid back — or most of the names on that list. He’s absolutely driven, a relentless character with a passion for the game. Patterson does not give off anything like that same vibe.

                  • troy says:

                    laid back= blue collar, go out there and get the job done with out trying to showboat and run your mouth. Thats how I interput the definittion. I think its difficult to say Pattersons not driven or passionate unless your in that locker room. What are you bassing this off of? Media reports? Interviews? The players I listed above arent Divas, they dont run their mouths, to me thats laid back.

                  • Rob Staton says:

                    I’m not sure anyone has ever referred to laid back as meaning blue collar. Don’t see that at all.

                    Patterson is not an overly competitive player, at times he plays at his own speed. That’s what I mean by laid back. He rounds off routes, he’s not the best at winning contested passes. He’s not a sure handed or overly technical player. He’s essentially a great athlete and an X-Factor. Guys like Larry Fitzgerald combine extreme athletic skills and size with a determination on the field, extreme competitive spirit and I keep referring back to the phrase, “pissed off for greatness”. I don’t see that in Patterson, sorry.

    • Rob Staton says:

      It’s a tough one to answer. There was nobody at #25 who gets close to Harvin’s ability. This time next year he might be back as a legit MVP candidate. Frustrating first season, but I’m loathe to write it off after one year. Especially if he has an impact in the playoffs.

    • Phil says:

      Great question. At the moment, the answer’s got to be “no” regarding the trade. But if Percy gets back on the field and lights it up in the playoffs, then the no turns to a “maybe”. If he’s healthy next year and is a key contributor and his presence results in a net improvement to the team (that is, what we gain with Percy is more than what we lose because of the $$ we pay him that could have gone to someone else), then the “no” and the “maybe” turn to a “yes”.

      • troy says:

        Id say if we have success in the playoffs and win the SB with Harvin healthy and contributing its a big ol’ TEN-4… No maybe about it if this in the scenerio.

  6. JW says:

    I suspect the Rams are getting a hard lesson in ‘reaching’. Tavon didn’t deserve the draft position he got, in a weak WR class. And they passed on great DL prospects to fill a need. Now here we are 1 year later and there’s a great WR available to them, but it complicates matters to take him.

  7. Kenny Sloth says:

    I’m not sure DeAnthony Thomas is fast enough.

  8. burkholderj says:

    Rob you had me wanting Hopkins so bad last year I can’t have us passing on another legit Clemson receiver. I watched the game last night and he looked like the receiver that we need to make our receiving corp elite, and just in case we lose Golden. (Which I hope doesn’t happen…) He would help keep things falling off in terms of receiver production. I know we don’t trade up as an organization but this is the player that we need to do that for this year. In an offseason that we don’t have GLARING needs this could be the year we make the luxury pick that we deserve. On a side note, I am absolutely in on re-signing Michael Bennett at all costs. He is way too good to let go.

  9. Turp says:

    Rob, does the WR depth this year make Tate a lot cheaper?

    • Turp says:

      Errr, easier* would be more accurate.

    • Rob Staton says:

      It might do… but then a team who wants to go QB early knowing they’ll miss out on the top receivers could also throw some money at Tate.

    • Phil says:

      When I think of Tate (BTW, I’m a big supporter), I think of slants, back shoulder catches, and improvising on RW’s scrambling plays. I don’t think of him “running routes” (except slants, maybe bubble screens). Where I’m headed with this is that just because he’s a big part of Seattle’s offense doesn’t translate to him being a big part of every team’s offense. I hope I’m right, because if I am, this might mean that his value to teams that need a WR might be diminished and he will be a Seahawk for the next several years.

      • Phil says:

        Gotta add a few more thoughts about Tate. Some posters to this blog point to Tate as a guy who has “turned into” a really good receiver because the Seahawks were patient with him while he honed his skills. They talk about his “development” and cite him as an example of how the Seahawks can draft some guy with undeveloped skills and then turn him into a valuable part of the team.

        Tate won the Biletnikoff (spelling?) award — awarded to college football’s best receiver — coming out of Notre Dame. He was a 1st team All American. In other words, he had pretty good skills already.

        And, is it really a case of Tate’s already impressive skills improving, or is more of a case that the Seahawks finally have a QB whose skill set matches really well with Tate’s? I’d argue that it’s the latter. IMHO, he’s still not an accomplished route runner, but that’s not really where his value lies. And, PC and Bevell were smart enough to not insist that he change to some guy that he’s not.

  10. Stuart says:

    That would be a good plan, really hope Tate stays. Somebody will throw BIG money at him. It may shock us. His heart would say stay but if it’s an extra $2-3 million per season over 4 seasons, yikes.

  11. Unitas77 says:

    Rob what do you think of Jordan Mathews wr Vanderbilt he looks to have the size and speed of a typical Green Bay receiver ie Robert brooks, Greg Jennings, Jody nelson

  12. Cysco says:

    Watkins is amazing, no doubt.

    Rob, how big of a drop off do you see between Watkins and Beckham Jr? I watch beckham Jr highlights and see many of the same things you talked about to describe Watkins. Fluid, Great hands, ability to highpoint the ball, amazing athleticism, etc.

    Though an inch shorter, I think Beckham Jr has a higher vertical while Watkins probably has a faster 40 time.

    Is Watkins really 25 draft spots better than Beckham Jr?

    • Rob Staton says:

      Not 25 spots for me. I’m a huge Beckham fan. I don’t know why he doesn’t get talked about more often. For me he’s a top-20 talent. I’d love to see him in Seattle — but I do feel like they have a very similar player already in Tate. Still a heck of a player though who deserves more attention.

      • Cysco says:

        I’ll be really interested to see what Tate’s market is like this offseason. What’s his reputation and value around the league? If we end up losing him to a big pay day elsewhere I agree that Beckham would be a great replacement.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I think he ticks two key boxes for free agency — he’s a big name (mostly down to ‘that’ play) and he’s an X-factor play maker.

          Anyone getting a young QB in the draft needs to consider spending big on Tate.

          • troy says:

            Rob do you think it would be a fair comparison in broad to say Beckham J= Golden Tate while Sammy Watkins= Percy Harvin?

  13. Ted says:

    Rob,

    What are your thoughts on Martavis Bryant since he declared for the draft now? Big body, good speed, under the radar most likely especially in the loaded WR class. I admittedly don’t know much about him, just curious to see if you noticed him when watching tape on Watkins or Nuk last year. thanks.

    • Rob Staton says:

      He’s a bit of a body catcher. Not overly polished or dominant. Has the right kind of physical qualities. For me he’s a later round type — 4th or 5th. But worth a shot if they can’t get a big man early.