Sammy Watkins is widely regarded as the premier receiver in the 2014 NFL draft class, but the Clemson star is not resting on his laurels.
He was an active participant during the Tigers' pro day on Thursday, continuing to show scouts and general managers why they should take him with a top pick this May.
There was quite a bit of representation from franchises with top picks in the upcoming draft on hand.
Josina Anderson of ESPN posted a photo of new Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and general manager Mike Mayhew, who would be lucky to get Watkins with the No. 10 overall pick:
Sam Snead, GM of the St. Louis Rams and controller of the second overall pick, was also in attendance, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com noted a San Francisco 49ers scout was also on campus, but the Niners would need to pull off a drastic trade to land the star wideout:
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com is also reporting that the Lions have interest in Watkins:
Watkins took it easy to start the day, electing to let his amazing time in the 40-yard dash from the combine speak for itself, per Aaron Brenner of the Charleston Post and Courier:
He also found some time to talk with an All-Pro-caliber wide receiver, as Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer captured Watkins conversing with Carolina Panthers star Steve Smith:
Watkins must have received some great advice from Smith, as he went out and killed it during the positional-drills portion of the pro day.
He ran routes and caught passes from quarterback Tajh Boyd, who ultimately connected on 63 of 64 open-field throws and 19 of 19 end-zone passes:
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reported that one scout called it the “best pro-day workout I've ever seen from a receiver”:
Snead called it "impressive":
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller knew that Watkins had a great pro day based off the sheer number of texts he received:
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network projected that Watkins’ pro-day performance would not significantly help his stock, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. The draft specialist had this to say about the elite wideout ahead of his on-campus workout:
He’s one of the best wide receivers I’ve seen on tape in the last 10 years. Because his Combine was so good a couple weeks ago, I think all he’s going to do is catch the football, and if he doesn’t get hurt he’s a Top 10 pick.
Miller agreed with that sentiment:
Watkins entered the pre-draft process with plenty of momentum, capping off a memorable junior campaign with an elite performance in the Orange Bowl. He helped Clemson best Ohio State in the BCS bowl, catching 16 passes for 227 yards and two scores, leaving no doubt that he is a bona fide game-changer.
He had already proven that by putting up special numbers during his three-year tenure with the Tigers, even during an injury-plagued sophomore season in 2012:
|Sammy Watkins' Clemson Statistics|
The 20-year-old parlayed that overall body of work and epic college finale into a top-tier combine showing, where he ranked amongst the top performers at his position in the 40-yard dash (4.43 seconds), bench press (16 reps) and broad jump (126 inches).
Watkins also dominated in interviews, making it clear to teams that he has the drive to succeed at the next level. According to Taylor Price of 49ers.com, the wideout took some time at the combine to explain his passion for beating his defender:
Mayock echoed that sentiment during a conference call with ESPN’s Pat McManamon:
He’s got a little attitude about him. He blocks people. You can see him getting (angry) during games and going after corners and safeties and linebackers.
So he’s got an attitude like he wants to be the best player there is, and when you combine that with his physical ability I think it’s awesome.
Now that Watkin’s pro day is complete, all that remains to be seen is how high in the first round he is drafted.
The star made it through the pre-draft process unscathed and managed to boost his stock significantly over the course of the combine and Clemson's pro day. He appears to be a lock for the top 10 and could conceivably go as high as No. 2 to the Rams.
Other likely destinations are the Cleveland Browns at No. 4, Oakland Raiders at No. 5, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 7, Buffalo Bills at No. 9 and likely no later than the Lions at No. 10.
Ledbetter reported that Watkins will be in attendance in New York for the draft, a smart play considering he is a guaranteed first-round pick:
The draft will certainly be intriguing, but it is downright impossible to imagine a scenario in which Watkins falls past Detroit, especially after this incredible pro-day performance.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.