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Old 05-03-2014, 03:36 AM    (permalink
FUNBUNCHER
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For some reason Watkins is being hyped up as a potential Hall of Fame talent and everyone acts like he comes along once every 5 years. It's just not the case. He is in the same range as Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Justin Blackmon and Michael Crabtree. He's an excellent prospect, but he's not rare.
Not one of these WRs is as quick or fast as Watkins is in pads.

Watkins hands, physicality, speed and acceleration are what make him such a unique prospect.

Blackmon and Crabtree aren't even in the same zipcode as Watkins in terms of pure athletic ability.
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Old 05-03-2014, 03:47 AM    (permalink
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No. I think he could be really good. But I don't see him
as an elite Larry Fitzgerald / Calvin Johnson type.
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Old 05-03-2014, 04:09 AM    (permalink
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I never said you couldn't find exceptions. Victor Cruz has not had the expected career of a Top 5 pick. Also, the landscape of NFL passing has changed. WR are taller and bigger than ever and so are the corners. More and more teams are pushing the envelope looking for bigger and bigger defenders. The defensive coaches understand the issues the height creates against them and yet the GMs continue to ignore it when selecting many short WR so high. You cherry pick 4 exceptionally good WR, all of whom played the majority of their careers before tall corners started to come into vogue in the NFL and yet only Harrison has stats to back up your point.

Bruce 2 double digit TDs in 16 seasons
Smith 2 double digit TDs in 12 seasons
Rison 4 double digit TDs in 14 seasons
Harrison 8 double digit TDs in 13 seasons

Even including Harrison, you have these historically great WR, playing with mostly Hall of Fame QBs, against much smaller corners, and they manage double digit TDs in 16 of 55 seasons. TD stats are going to be smashed by this new breed of tall WR.

And despite his exceptional flash of speed or whatever, does anyone really think Percy Harvin is a #1 WR in the NFL? If that is where you are comparing the Top 5 pick is way off.
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Old 05-03-2014, 04:42 AM    (permalink
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Not one of these WRs is as quick or fast as Watkins is in pads.

Watkins hands, physicality, speed and acceleration are what make him such a unique prospect.

Blackmon and Crabtree aren't even in the same zipcode as Watkins in terms of pure athletic ability.
Blackmon was a much more advanced player coming out of college. He had a significant edge over Watkins in terms of route running. If you look back at his Combine performance his numbers compare very well to what Watkins put up. They're actually very similar players and their measurables are about as close as you could possibly get. I understand I might have been higher on Blackmon than most - I don't think I was at the time, but since he's hardly on the field I know it's easy to call him a bust or whatnot, but his talent level was incredible.

Julio Jones ran a 4.38 at 220 pounds. He had an 11'3" broad jump and a 38" vertical. Those numbers across the board are superior to Watkins, and he did it with a broken bone in his foot. That's explosiveness. I grew on Jones late in the process, because I went back to his freshman tape - like I did with Watkins this year - and that removed any concerns regarding dip in production, which both players had during their sophomore years. Jones' character and work ethic was also off the charts. And his physicality was exceptional.

Dez Bryant was an electrifying open field runner - just go back to his punt returns - and he was more physical after the catch than Watkins is, which is not a knock on Watkins. Bryant was a beast. His ability track the ball over his head? Making diving or leaping catches was about as good as I've ever seen. It was a truly rare quality. He also had some of the best hands I've seen. He missed mostly all of his junior season for a BS reason and probably wasn't in the best shape during his Pro Day, but he still performed well. He's not nearly as fast as Watkins, but, again, he was a very good route runner, had incredible body control and displayed a phenomenal catching radius. All his issues stemmed from off field concerns. It caused me to go back-and-forth about where he should be ranked, but I ultimately settled on just watching the tape and not making an attempt at projecting his character or what kind of impact that would have on him.

Jerry Jones saw Randy Moss drop in the draft due to character issues, he passed on Moss, and he was not going to let the same thing happen twice. That's why he took Bryant.

I was a little down on Crabtree because I thought his speed was closer to average - probably 4.5s - but he also didn't show the ability to make contested catches or go over the top of defenders. If you're going to have average speed and depend on pure route running, you're going to need some special quality to make you a special receiver at the next level. I didn't think Crabtree had special qualities. I think I had him ranked as a Top 15 player. I thought he was going to be very good and consistently productive, but never elite. I included him in this discussion because he was the consensus top ranked WR in the 2009 class who was dubbed as a potential Top 5 pick. A foot injury preventing him from running really scared teams off. As well as being labeled a diva.

I think Sammy Watkins has very sold size, very good hands and very good speed - most notably exceptional long distance speed. He's very physical after the catch and can break some tackles, but he doesn't seem to possesses the cut back ability in the open field to become a truly dangerous player after the catch. So I'd call him good after the catch, but not great. I think he's an excellent blocker and plays the game physically. Seems like a true team player and he never came off as selfish.

But my biggest issue with Watkins are in two areas.

He didn't show a consistent ability to win 50/50 balls like Mike Evans, Dez Bryant, AJ Green or others have showed. He's made some highlight reel catches where he showed a tremendous vertical, good timing and an elite ability to high-point the football, but those types of catches didn't happen with the type of regularity that you'd like to see from someone who has that ability. He has more vertical ability than someone like Crabtree, but I can't say Watkins is at an elite level. This isn't a major concern because I know he has that type of game breaking ability. I just don't know how often he's going to be making jump ball type catches at the pro level. Dez Bryant, Mike Evans, Michael Floyd, AJ Green, Calvin Johnson, AJ Green... That vertical ability was a major part of their game, and it was a big reason why they were thought to be potential double digit TD guys.

My second area of concern is lack of route running. He relied on screen passes and short throws as his primary way of getting involved in the offense. He didn't run an impressive route tree and didn't show much improvement since his freshman year. His best game was against Ohio State in the Bowl game. Go back and watch it. 14 catches? How many were a result of actual patterns run? I think 12 of his 14 catches might have been behind the line of scrimmage. I think he has the potential to become a very good route runner, but he's still very raw in that area.

I don't want to sound like I'm bashing Watkins. My initial post shouldn't be insulting. To bunch him with a group of guys like Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Justin Blackmon and Michael Crabtree... That should be considered a compliment. You could argue that he might be the best of that bunch, but I think it's fair to say that he's in that group. I also think it's fair to Julio Jones and Dez Bryant as well.

If I were to rank these guys as prospects without any hindsight, I'd rank them like this:

1. Justin Blackmon (2012)
2. Dez Bryant (2010)
3. Julio Jones (2011)
4. Sammy Watkins (2014)
5. Michael Crabtree (2009)


I think Watkins is a better prospect than Mike Evans even though Evans has great ball skills and leaping ability. Evans is not in the same group athletically as Julio Jones or Dez Bryant. He's not as polished as Justin Blackmon or Michael Crabtree. I think Evans is too one-dimensional and relies too heavily on his size and catching radius. I think he compares well to Michael Floyd, who suffered from the same stigma, but I actually liked Floyd more because I saw better quickness and more potential as a route runner.

Evans has jumped into my #2 WR spot over Beckham Jr, but Watkins clearly has more potential. I went back and watched Odell Beckham more and I saw a guy who really needs to improve his positioning on deep balls and shielding defenders. He didn't make enough contested catches.
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Old 05-03-2014, 06:13 AM    (permalink
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I would counter that Watkins is not in the same group as Julio athletically either. Julio's combine performance was significantly better as well as his raw physical attributes. Perhaps it shows up on the field you say? Jones had far better TD performance and superior yards per catch and target numbers.
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:33 AM    (permalink
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As for height, guys like Isaac Bruce, Marvin Harrison, Andre Rison and Rod Smith are all 6 foot WRs with multiple double digit TD seasons.
That's a good point.

Now let's take that a step deeper:

Bruce: Kurt Warner, high-octane offense Greatest Show on Turf.
Harrison: Peyton Manning (does wonders for WRs, see Decker)
Rison: Atlanta Falcons Run & Shoot offense (lesser WRs had big #s in it).. he played for 7 teams, won a Super Bowl with us, but only double0digit TDs were the years in that Run & Shoot pass-always offense.

So what I'm saying is much of Watkins' future success will be his QB and offense.
Justin Blackmon might have blossomed into a Pro Bowler by now had he gone to Denver or Green Bay, but on Jacksonville? Cursed.

But there are some true special players, see Megatron, AJ, Julio, Dez, Morgan last year, who will put up big numbers even with a crappy or just decent QB.

I don't see Sammy as one of THOSE guys who will.
We'll see.


If he goes to the Jags,
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Old 05-03-2014, 09:17 AM    (permalink
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Fine, but Isaac Bruce put up his best statistical seasons before Kurt Warner ever played for the Rams.

Anyone who says they were blown away by Julio Jones at Alabama isn't being honest. He's been more impressive as a pro than he ever was as a collegian and I don't care what he ran at the combine. 4.38-4.39 is a great time, but he's not faster than Sammy Watkins on a football field.

Excluding off the field issues, if Dez/Julio/Sammie/Crabtree/Blackmon were all in the same draft, Dez and Julio are the only WRs I see possibly going before Watkins.
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Old 05-03-2014, 09:30 AM    (permalink
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I would counter that Watkins is not in the same group as Julio athletically either. Julio's combine performance was significantly better as well as his raw physical attributes. Perhaps it shows up on the field you say? Jones had far better TD performance and superior yards per catch and target numbers.
Please don't compare Julio's numbers in Atlanta to Watkins' production as a collegian.

As pro prospects, Watkins dominated most game days unlike Julio at Alabama.
The only physical advantage Julio has over Watkins is two inches in height and more size.

Most of us who watched Julio at Alabama never believed he could run a 4.3 because he never looked that fast in college.

After three years at Clemson, most of us thought Watkins would run at least a 4.3. He simply is the faster football player.

At least in Watkins' case, saying that Julio Jones is the faster player because he ran a faster 40 at Indy is highly misleading.

Desean Jackson and Torrey Smith are the only WR prospects in recent memory who really remind me of Sammy Watkins in terms of quickness and pure game speed.

Finally, cornerbacks as a group aren't taller than they were in the 1990s and 2000s.
I love the way people try to argue they're been quantum leaps in the game of football in the last 20 years.
They're haven't been.

Corners are heavier, they aren't all taller.

Isolating height as the determining factor for WR success in the pros has about as much validity as claiming pure arm strength is the final barometer for elite QB play.

If Percy Harvin isn't a top #1 WR, it has nothing to do with his being 5'11. So far in his career, Harvin's biggest issue is staying healthy enough to play a 16 game season.
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:06 AM    (permalink
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Just for fun I'm going to throw out the fact that Andre Johnson has never had a double digit TD season despite being 6'3.
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:08 AM    (permalink
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No. I think he could be really good. But I don't see him
as an elite Larry Fitzgerald / Calvin Johnson type.
I think we can all agree that Calvin and Andre Johnson when healthy are the top 2 WR's in the game today, they are followed by AJ Green and Fitzgerald with Julio Jones, Dez and maybe Demaryius Thomas close by. I think Watkins isn't as good as Calvin or Andre, but IMO, is right there as a prospect with Green and Fitzgerald and a step ahead of Jones, Dez and Thomas as a prospect. He's faster than Green and Fitzgerald and yet still has the body control and hands that these 2 possess.

It is very difficult to separate what a pro has accomplished to what a prospect might accomplish, but just looking at their potential before they became pros, that is how I would rank them.
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:12 AM    (permalink
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Just for fun I'm going to throw out the fact that Andre Johnson has never had a double digit TD season despite being 6'3.
He has also been playing in a run first offense with a mediocre QB throwing him the ball.
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:23 AM    (permalink
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He has also been playing in a run first offense with a mediocre QB throwing him the ball.
It's not meant as a shot against Johnson. It was meant to point out the flaw in stating that #1 WRs are 6'2+ guys that catch 10+ TDs a season.

Again though I just pointed it out for fun and it's not meant to be a serious argument. I completely understand that guy's stance on shorter WRs, it's part of the reason why I'm not as high on Watkins as most, but I also think that you can't just say "This guy is under 6'2 so he can't be a true #1 WR".
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:46 AM    (permalink
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I think we can all agree that Calvin and Andre Johnson when healthy are the top 2 WR's in the game today, they are followed by AJ Green and Fitzgerald with Julio Jones, Dez and maybe Demaryius Thomas close by. I think Watkins isn't as good as Calvin or Andre, but IMO, is right there as a prospect with Green and Fitzgerald and a step ahead of Jones, Dez and Thomas as a prospect. He's faster than Green and Fitzgerald and yet still has the body control and hands that these 2 possess.

It is very difficult to separate what a pro has accomplished to what a prospect might accomplish, but just looking at their potential before they became pros, that is how I would rank them.
Andre Johnson the second best receiver in the NFL? Safe to say not all will agree.
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Old 05-03-2014, 12:12 PM    (permalink
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In re-reading these posts I want to make sure you please don't get me wrong. I think Sammy Watkins is a hell of a football player and I not claiming bust or anything like that. I just feel like there is a clear pattern of what makes a top WR that is evident. You're totally right, Watkins may be good enough to go against that pattern and we're only talking one inch. All I know is given the information at hand, with very similar production and athletic measurables, I would choose Evans every time due to his height.
This is my main point. I just don't like when dinging a prospect starts with examples of past prospects. I like to start with an evaluation and projection of that player based on HIS merits, then maybe use the type of pattern to supplement the total evaluation.

And he might not be a 10+ TD guy. Those guys DO typically tend to be over 6'1" obviously. But if he's catching 80 balls for 1200 yards every year and making big plays and scoring 5-to-9 each year and KR and having a Steve Smith impact...

I guess the point in this thread is that he's not AJ/Julio/Calvin/Fitz. He's not, no. His weaknesses and really inexperience doing the things they proved they could do down the field are obvious. And I guess he does have some bust risk if he really doesn't adapt. But if you watch him move and use all the info we have - the smart projection is that he will be able to play NFL-caliber WR in terms of running routes and the nuances those guys know how to play with.

As for your point about Evans - I have no qualms with that. I could absolutely see a team wanting Evans over him. Evans is a freak and would have gone No. 1 overall last year. I just like both of these WRs a lot. Reminds me of the Julio/AJ debates. They were interesting, sure, but always kinda pointless to me. Both players were incredible prospects. Same thing here. I don't think you have to dislike Watkins AT ALL to have Evans over him.
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Old 05-03-2014, 12:35 PM    (permalink
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I guess my larger point includes the concept of expending of draft capital. If we can see trends which lead us to believe certain attributes or performances are more relevant to either successful or dominant play at the NFL level, do we ignore these when they don't confirm what we think we see in watching them play at the college level?

Clearly, we all agree that Watkins is a great talent with a lot of potential and is probably going to be a very effective WR. My only contention is that there are indications that he will be drafted a higher price (#4 say) then perhaps he should be (maybe more like 10 - 15). In an extremely deep and strong WR class, a player will be taken at a cost that is seen only a few times a decade (Top 3 or 4) and yet even strong supporters will eventually admit that there may be some areas where he may not be a truly dominant player (elite TD production a la Calvin and AJ).

NFL teams and draft pundits seem not to self-anazlye and grade their results year over year to see what has worked and what has not. Watkins is a polarizing example because his performance is so outstanding and his indicators such as height are right on the borderline of very desirable.

What, though, about Odell Beckham? What about Brandin Cooks. I have to admit, watching tape of Brandin Cooks is fun and the guy has incredible skills but you MUST admit that taking Cooks in the first round, based on overwhelming historical and statistical precedent, is a wildly foolish move. There is ZERO precedent for that type of player having dominating ability (even Steve Smith did not) and staggering history of players with his body type ever being much more than effective slot receivers.

Why then, if a player's physical size means they can never become a WR 1, do teams continue to expend ultimate resources (1st round picks)? They fool themselves with speed and college performance even though, for short players, history shows that is clearly not a difference maker. Strangely, this debate is long since over for linemen and linebackers, it is simply understood that there are certain physical requirements to be effective in that role.

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Old 05-03-2014, 12:38 PM    (permalink
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I just don't like when dinging a prospect starts with examples of past prospects. I like to start with an evaluation and projection of that player based on HIS merits, then maybe use the type of pattern to supplement the total evaluation.
Everyone seems comfortable positively comparing prospects to players who have transitioned successfully to the NFL. It seems absurd that half or even more than half of first round picks are never worth their draft position. Perhaps if we use effective and relevant comparison to previous prospects (who did or did not succeed) and a more analytical approach to comparing players, maybe that ratio could improve.
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Old 05-03-2014, 12:44 PM    (permalink
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Blackmon was a much more advanced player coming out of college. He had a significant edge over Watkins in terms of route running. If you look back at his Combine performance his numbers compare very well to what Watkins put up. They're actually very similar players and their measurables are about as close as you could possibly get. I understand I might have been higher on Blackmon than most - I don't think I was at the time, but since he's hardly on the field I know it's easy to call him a bust or whatnot, but his talent level was incredible.

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Where is the speed the great WR's possess, just isn't in the class of the great WR's never mind the character issues.
Julio Jones ran a 4.38 at 220 pounds. He had an 11'3" broad jump and a 38" vertical. Those numbers across the board are superior to Watkins, and he did it with a broken bone in his foot. That's explosiveness. I grew on Jones late in the process, because I went back to his freshman tape - like I did with Watkins this year - and that removed any concerns regarding dip in production, which both players had during their sophomore years. Jones' character and work ethic was also off the charts. And his physicality was exceptional.

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Jones is indeed explosive but his whole game is based on speed, he doesn't have Watkins feet or hands and he isn't much at breaking tackles and YAC.
Dez Bryant was an electrifying open field runner - just go back to his punt returns - and he was more physical after the catch than Watkins is, which is not a knock on Watkins. Bryant was a beast. His ability track the ball over his head? Making diving or leaping catches was about as good as I've ever seen. It was a truly rare quality. He also had some of the best hands I've seen. He missed mostly all of his junior season for a BS reason and probably wasn't in the best shape during his Pro Day, but he still performed well. He's not nearly as fast as Watkins, but, again, he was a very good route runner, had incredible body control and displayed a phenomenal catching radius. All his issues stemmed from off field concerns. It caused me to go back-and-forth about where he should be ranked, but I ultimately settled on just watching the tape and not making an attempt at projecting his character or what kind of impact that would have on him.

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Dez certainly has the potential to be one of the all time greats, unfortunately, he was extremely immature coming into the league and there are still games where he disappears. Unfortunately, character has a lot to do with a player's success.
Jerry Jones saw Randy Moss drop in the draft due to character issues, he passed on Moss, and he was not going to let the same thing happen twice. That's why he took Bryant.

I was a little down on Crabtree because I thought his speed was closer to average - probably 4.5s - but he also didn't show the ability to make contested catches or go over the top of defenders. If you're going to have average speed and depend on pure route running, you're going to need some special quality to make you a special receiver at the next level. I didn't think Crabtree had special qualities. I think I had him ranked as a Top 15 player. I thought he was going to be very good and consistently productive, but never elite. I included him in this discussion because he was the consensus top ranked WR in the 2009 class who was dubbed as a potential Top 5 pick. A foot injury preventing him from running really scared teams off. As well as being labeled a diva.

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Will never be a star but a very solid route runner who will be productive if he can stay healthy. Doesn't possess game breaking ability.
I think Sammy Watkins has very sold size, very good hands and very good speed - most notably exceptional long distance speed. He's very physical after the catch and can break some tackles, but he doesn't seem to possesses the cut back ability in the open field to become a truly dangerous player after the catch. So I'd call him good after the catch, but not great. I think he's an excellent blocker and plays the game physically. Seems like a true team player and he never came off as selfish.

But my biggest issue with Watkins are in two areas.

He didn't show a consistent ability to win 50/50 balls like Mike Evans, Dez Bryant, AJ Green or others have showed. He's made some highlight reel catches where he showed a tremendous vertical, good timing and an elite ability to high-point the football, but those types of catches didn't happen with the type of regularity that you'd like to see from someone who has that ability. He has more vertical ability than someone like Crabtree, but I can't say Watkins is at an elite level. This isn't a major concern because I know he has that type of game breaking ability. I just don't know how often he's going to be making jump ball type catches at the pro level. Dez Bryant, Mike Evans, Michael Floyd, AJ Green, Calvin Johnson, AJ Green... That vertical ability was a major part of their game, and it was a big reason why they were thought to be potential double digit TD guys.

My second area of concern is lack of route running. He relied on screen passes and short throws as his primary way of getting involved in the offense. He didn't run an impressive route tree and didn't show much improvement since his freshman year. His best game was against Ohio State in the Bowl game. Go back and watch it. 14 catches? How many were a result of actual patterns run? I think 12 of his 14 catches might have been behind the line of scrimmage. I think he has the potential to become a very good route runner, but he's still very raw in that area.

I don't want to sound like I'm bashing Watkins. My initial post shouldn't be insulting. To bunch him with a group of guys like Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Justin Blackmon and Michael Crabtree... That should be considered a compliment. You could argue that he might be the best of that bunch, but I think it's fair to say that he's in that group. I also think it's fair to Julio Jones and Dez Bryant as well.

If I were to rank these guys as prospects without any hindsight, I'd rank them like this:

1. Justin Blackmon (2012)
2. Dez Bryant (2010)
3. Julio Jones (2011)
4. Sammy Watkins (2014)
5. Michael Crabtree (2009)


I think Watkins is a better prospect than Mike Evans even though Evans has great ball skills and leaping ability. Evans is not in the same group athletically as Julio Jones or Dez Bryant. He's not as polished as Justin Blackmon or Michael Crabtree. I think Evans is too one-dimensional and relies too heavily on his size and catching radius. I think he compares well to Michael Floyd, who suffered from the same stigma, but I actually liked Floyd more because I saw better quickness and more potential as a route runner.

Evans has jumped into my #2 WR spot over Beckham Jr, but Watkins clearly has more potential. I went back and watched Odell Beckham more and I saw a guy who really needs to improve his positioning on deep balls and shielding defenders. He didn't make enough contested catches.
I just don't see some of the weaknesses you see for Watkins. I've never seen a prospect with better hands than Watkins, some matched him like a Chris Carter but they weren't better. He is a competitive and explosive hand catcher who will reach and extend to catch a ball at the high point.

He can freeze defenders feet, then accelerate past them. He's a double move magician. He wins in transition and separates against top CB's. He excels on crossing routes. Big time speed, quickness and production with the ball in his hands. Uncanny ability to break tackles and split defenders. Led the country in yards after the catch with 837 yards. He's is also explosive on kickoff returns.

It is little wonder that Clemson tried short passes to get the ball into his hands since he was quite capable of then taking it the distance. He has every attribute to suggest he will excel at route running once he is asked to do it.

The only receivers in his class at the next level will be Calvin and Johnson who I would put ahead of him, then Dez, AJ Green and Fitzgerald who I would suggest, he has a solid chance to be equal to if not better.
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Old 05-03-2014, 12:47 PM    (permalink
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I wouldn't be surprised if Sammy becomes a better redzone receiver than people expect. He's very good at catching the ball away from his body and it's not as if he's Brandin Cooks with a miniscule body/catch radius. I'm surprised they didn't try fade routes more often with him at Clemson.

I think his ability to threaten defenses with that route will ultimately decide just how high his value is in the NFL. He's going to be dangerous on screens, he's going to stretch defenses vertically, and I believe he has the tools to be a good route runner overall. The question is how effective can he be when the field shrinks and spacing gets tight near the endzone. He doesn't have to be Calvin/Julio but he can't let defenders feel safe giving him the outside in those situations.
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:00 PM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by Sawyerfamilyaz View Post
I guess my larger point includes the concept of expending of draft capital. If we can see trends which lead us to believe certain attributes or performances are more relevant to either successful or dominant play at the NFL level, do we ignore these when they don't confirm what we think we see in watching them play at the college level?

Clearly, we all agree that Watkins is a great talent with a lot of potential and is probably going to be a very effective WR. My only contention is that there are indications that he will be drafted a higher price (#4 say) then perhaps he should be (maybe more like 10 - 15). In an extremely deep and strong WR class, a player will be taken at a cost that is seen only a few times a decade (Top 3 or 4) and yet even strong supporters will eventually admit that there may be some areas where he may not be a truly dominant player (elite TD production a la Calvin and AJ).

NFL teams and draft pundits seem not to self-anazlye and grade their results year over year to see what has worked and what has not. Watkins is a polarizing example because his performance is so outstanding and his indicators such as height are right on the borderline of very desirable.

What, though, about Odell Beckham? What about Brandin Cooks. I have to admit, watching tape of Brandin Cooks is fun and the guy has incredible skills but you MUST admit that taking Cooks in the first round, based on overwhelming historical and statistical precedent, is a wildly foolish move. There is ZERO precedent for that type of player having dominating ability (even Steve Smith did not) and staggering history of players with his body type ever being much more than effective slot receivers.

Why then, if a player's physical size means they can never become a WR 1, do teams continue to expend ultimate resources (1st round picks)? They fool themselves with speed and college performance even though, for short players, history shows that is clearly not a difference maker. Strangely, this debate is long since over for linemen and linebackers, it is simply understood that there are certain physical requirements to be effective in that role.
I'm basically 100% with you on this point. I've never been as high on Cooks as others are for the reasons you gave. I generally don't value WR prospects as highly as others and remember when people had Marqise Lee as a top 10 pick this year.

I'm assuming that you're not a fan of Manziel given your general stance on prospects. He's a prime example of people expecting him to be the exception to the rule and using Russell Wilson as proof that size doesn't matter for QBs.

The one problem I have with your analysis though is that you seem to have too high of expected value for a 1st round pick. Teams picking in the top 10 should absolutely be expecting a stud but if you can get a good starter at the end of the 1st you should be happy.
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:11 PM    (permalink
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Everyone seems comfortable positively comparing prospects to players who have transitioned successfully to the NFL. It seems absurd that half or even more than half of first round picks are never worth their draft position. Perhaps if we use effective and relevant comparison to previous prospects (who did or did not succeed) and a more analytical approach to comparing players, maybe that ratio could improve.
It's fair to incorporate analytics into the final equation. I just think the first and foremost part of the evaluation should be that player on the field. If you want to prove that those types of players fail 20% of the time on average, it's worth noting. But I contend that of those past players, NONE are the guy at hand. That's how you miss things. By pigeon-holing yourself. And if you skewed the paramters, you could easily prove that Watkins is one of only 5 players to meet X, Y, Z criteria (say, 40 time) and that 4 of them have succeeded. You know? There's a reason why he's in the top 5. His traits are just outstanding.

I think some of what you're trying to sell is more common sense than anything analytics can teach us. Teams taking QBs who don't win in college or don't even have good college stats RARELY ever translate into good pro QBs. Yet teams continue taking them year after year. There is probably some model that can be built to back this up, but you can also plainly see it.

I don't know. In the MLB and NBA - that's pretty much a level playing field. Those sports are very stat-driven and %-driven for individual players. Analytics are far more valuable there. In the NFL draft there are soooo many variables from the value of college stats, to defensive players not having stats, to college scheme, to level of competition, workout value, test conditions, etc.... it just doesn't make sense for that data to be on equal footing as watching the tape (or even watching the workouts).

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Old 05-03-2014, 01:16 PM    (permalink
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The thing about Cooks, however, is that the type of player he is hasn't become an important or utilized position in the college or pro game until recently. We never embraced using smurfs in the ways we use smurfs now. Just food for thought.

He's also special. Point to me the special, productive, super-fast, great hands WR who failed only because he was small?

I agree 100% about the injury concerns, but he's a dynamite football player. If anything the guys who only have size concerns but check every other box are usually undervalued.
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:21 PM    (permalink
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Watkins is fantastic in the open field, but i agree with those saying he doesn't display that elite catch radius that guys like Fitzgerald and Dez did. Size matters at WR, especially if you want to be the lead dog. Run after the catch, Watkins is up there with those other guys, but he doesn't possess the rare combination of YAC ability and catch radius/Body control/physicality at the point as Dez, Fitz, Megatron, etc. Those guys are special because they can do it all.
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:23 PM    (permalink
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I really enjoy watching Manziel play and am excited to follow his NFL career and I hope he is successful because he is very fun to watch. That said, I wouldn't spend a high first round pick on him because there are too many indicators I see showing he is not likely to be elite. It is even worse with QB because you're into just spending draft capital. 1st round QB also eat up years of time when they don't succeed. Just ask the Minnesota Vikings.

I just see so many opinions that aren't grounded in anything quantifiable. Groupthink opinions aren't any more valid than other opinions to me. It's not just height, that's just the red flag I see with Watkins, and it's just about the only one. That and I would like him to have run faster since he isn't as tall. Kelvin Benjamin, however, has height to spare and I don't want anything to do with him in the first round either. There are a bunch of different warning signs there.

I just find it surprising there are so many smart people who become so emotionally attached to NFL prospects and their opinion of them. I find it a strange phenomomenon.

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Old 05-03-2014, 01:26 PM    (permalink
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It's fair to incorporate analytics into the final equation. I just think the first and foremost part of the evaluation should be that player on the field. If you want to prove that those types of players fail 20% of the time on average, it's worth noting. But I contend that of those past players, NONE are the guy at hand. That's how you miss things. By pigeon-holing yourself. And if you skewed the paramters, you could easily prove that Watkins is one of only 5 players to meet X, Y, Z criteria (say, 40 time) and that 4 of them have succeeded. You know? There's a reason why he's in the top 5. His traits are just outstanding.

I don't know. In the MLB and NBA - that's pretty much a level playing field. Those sports are very stat-driven and %-driven for individual players. Analytics are far more valuable there. In the NFL draft there are soooo many variables from the value of college stats, to defensive players not having stats, to college scheme, to level of competition, workout value, test conditions, etc.... it just doesn't make sense for that data to be on equal footing as watching the tape (or even watching the workouts).
It is interesting that you mention that because until recently, baseball and basketball people had the same disregard for statistical analysis that NFL people do. Only once it became proven successful did it start to become accepted.
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:27 PM    (permalink
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He has also been playing in a run first offense with a mediocre QB throwing him the ball.
That's complete nonsense.
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