For this 2014 Detroit Lions draft preview, we’re just going to dive right in. There’s a lot I want to cover about this guy and a lot of people have VERY strong opinions as to whether or not we should move up to grab him. This prospect being Sammy Watkins.
So as we know, our receivers last year were at best; bad and at worst; awful. We led the league in drops with 44, the next closest team was 41. This is unacceptable as a team that prides itself on having one of the best passing games in the league. No one is exempt from this though, everyone has issues hanging on to the ball. We need guys with good hands who can make plays and be a “closer” as Mayhew would put it. Sammy Watkins fits this mold perfectly.
Now Watkins does differ a bit from your typical receiver in that he stands 6’1” and weighs in at 211lbs. The oddity comes with his leaping ability however, as his vertical was only about 34” at the combine. Watkins ability though, that is undisputed. He runs through defenders, throws blocks, and tries to play the ball no matter how unplayable the pass may look. Let’s take a look at his scouting reports:
Great acceleration, quick to get to full speed
Superb ball skills
Patience in running his routes
Dangerous at catch-and-go plays at the line of scrimmage
Tough, isn’t afraid to lower his pads and initiate contact
Can line up wide, in the slot, or in the backfield
Catches the ball with hands away from his body
Limited rout running experience
Was used for mainly screen passes and short routes in college
Not much experience making contested catches
A lot of his drops were uncontested, was looking downfield before he got the ball
Didn’t drop many passes, but ones that were dropped may be from a lack of focus
Durability concerns with him being so physical
Knocked out of some games with minor injuries
Off-the-field marijuana arrest in 2012
Watkins overall is an excellent prospect, and one of the few elite prospects that exist in this draft. Yes, I know this draft is very deep at many positions, but there are still only a handful of elite prospects to be had this year. It’s highly doubtful that Watkins falls out of the top 5. If the Lions want to grab him, they are going to have to move up to do so. If he falls past Cleveland at 4, I believe our best trade potential lies with Oakland. Oakland has expressed desire to move down, and let’s not forget they gave the third overall pick to Miami last year for a first and a third. So I think it may be feasible for us to offer them a first and fourth for that pick to try and grab Watkins. I also believe anyone higher than Oakland is going to want too much for us to move up. Also, yes, I do believe we have other needs than trading up and grabbing a receiver in the first round. However, Calvin is getting older, and as much as we want to believe it, he’s not actually a robot and will need to be replaced eventually. Who’s to say that Calvins knee problem from last year isn’t worse than what we were originally told? Perhaps Mayhew is trying to move up to grab a guy he thinks can eventually replace Calvin as our #1 guy. Granted these are all just my opinions, so take it for what it’s worth, but this could very well be the reason Mayhew has been so vocal about Watkins and wanting to maybe move up to get him. Or perhaps this is all just one giant smoke screen and Mayhew is going to draft a kicker at 10.
With all of the talk this off-season about wanting to surround Stafford with the best talent so that he can flourish, does make you wonder whether or not this is a serious consideration. No one knows though, the only people who do will be in that Lions war room on May 8th. I do believe whatever way they go this year, whether it be to move and grab Watkins, or stay at 10 and draft someone else will benefit our team in the long run. For now, we have about 3 weeks to wait until we know what happens, and until then, everything is all speculation. Here’s to three more weeks of waiting, and to all the conversation that will happen afterwards. If you guys want to see any more of these, go ahead and leave a comment, message us on Facebook, or contact me on Twitter and I’ll gladly do some more. As always, Go Lions.
Check out some of Watkins’ highlights: Youtube
Or check these out too: Youtube
Previous Prospect: Aaron Donald