One of the biggest surprises of the 2014 NFL Draft’s first round was the Buffalo Bills pulling the trigger on a trade that moved them up from No. 9 to No. 4 to select Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
The Bills have been very vocal about their desire to bring in more dynamic weapons for second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel, and this is exactly the type of move that they were talking about. Watkins is expected to be a major star receiver in the NFL, and the Bills haven’t had a player of his talent at wide receiver in a long time.
Watkins had a huge season at Clemson last season, catching 101 passes for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is going to be an absolute burner on the outside against opposing defenders, and will be able to beat nearly any defensive back he goes up again in a foot race. That being said, he will need to work on his route running a bit as well as all-around game as a possession receiver to become the legitimate number one option that he has the potential to be.
There aren’t a lot of obvious issues with Watkins’ game, but there are some things that could affect him in the NFL that have gone practically unnoticed. First of all, he is extremely fast, but he isn’t overly quick. He isn’t a big wide receiver either, which could allow defenses to stick with him better than they would have been able to, and he has some concerns surrounding his durability as well.
Despite the issues that can be brought up about Watkins, he has shown the ability to be a star in his collegiate career. The Bills have been looking for a legitimate number one receiver with the struggles that Stevie Johnson had last season, and they believe that they have their man. If Watkins does live up to his potential, the Bills will have a superstar receiver in the next couple seasons to help build their offense around.
Overall, this was a very aggressive move from the Bills. They gave up the ninth pick in this years draft and also shipped their first-round pick in next years NFL Draft as well. Watkins is a very valuable prospect, but there is a ton of pressure on his shoulders to live up to the hype that he has received. He will be fun to watch in Buffalo next season, and this move obviously will help Manuel out in a major way as well.
Sammy Watkins Draft Grade: A-