Sammy Watkins is electric, I know. Watching the Orange Bowl I was in awe at what he could do in space. It would have been nice to see what he'd do against Bradley Roby, the Buckeye's top CB but at the same time, monster numbers are monster numbers. Ohio State's defense isn't Baylor's. I'll leave it at that.
It was after his second TD catch, a beautiful jump ball that he snatched out of the air at the highest point over a defender, that I realized something though. Outside of that pass, they don't throw to him downfield. It seemed every single pass to him was on some kind of screen or quick strike on a crossing route. It was working, though. Didn't think much of it again until a couple days later when I started thinking to myself maybe we should draft Watkins at #5. The team desperately needs a playmaker on offense, and while i think Evans is a better prospect as a #1 receiver we need a guy like Watkins more.
So I watched some tape. What I found was a little troubling. There's no way to know what he can do downfield.
In 4 games his average catch was about 3 yards down field. Mostly screens. In fact, almost half his targets in general were behind the line of scrimmage. Only 6 times was he thrown to beyond 10 yards. Clemson moves Watkins around a ton, lined him in in the slot and outside, but still, only short throws. The most complex pattern he ran was a simple post. You know, the play you run every other time in the backyard with your friends.
Not saying Watkins CAN'T evolve, in fact he probably will he's that talented, but it'll be a while. He has the raw tools and great hands to be a threat downfield but he needs to learn how because he never did at Clemson. There's no way to tell if he can make plays in traffic, especially when his size is only average.
The problem with Watkins is there's too much unknown. He could very well be a stronger Percy Harvin. He could also be Peter Warrick. Actually, Warrick caught the ball downfield more. Unfortunately you can't assume Watkin's game will translate to NFL success.
To take Watkins at #5 would be simply too high. I'm not saying he isn't a first round talent, if we were to trade down quite a bit and he was still there i'd be interested, for sure. The thing is he's too much of a gamble to take with the fifth pick for a player that isn't a true #1 receiver.