With a team desolated of playmakers and desperate for an identity, the Raiders have an oppurtunity to select Clemson Wide Out Sammy Watkins whom could change all of that presuming he is available with the #5 draft pick.
I have been an advocate for the Raiders selecting Watkins, however, earlier I broke down the deep recieving corps in this draft class. Any number of those guys could provide value to the Raiders, which would warrant a pass on Watkins and opting for a reciever in later rounds.
Since Watkins’ pro-day a few days ago, my stance has changed. The Raiders need Watkins to provide his explosive playmaking ability which could be the identity for the team. In his pro-day Watkins proved he was the best reciever in the class once again. Some even said it was one of the best pro-day workouts ever.
NFL Network Draft Guru Mike Mayock said Watkins is one of the best recievers he has analyzed in over 10 years. That is a great compliment. He very well may end up as one of the best players in this entire draft class.
As Raider fans, we still blame the organization for passing on Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson when there was an oppurtunity to draft either in their respective drafts.
Watkins showcased his capabilities in the Orange Bowl, where he put up 16 catches, with two TDs and over 200 yards against Ohio State. At Clemson he showcased his ability to line-up inside or outside. His speed was often showcased in the open field and his agility and accelartion displayed with a diverse route tree. Not only that, but has even showed a willing ness to block combined with a swagger the Raiders are looking for.
At the Combine, Watkins told NFL teams in interviews that he loves to dominate defenses. Denarius Moore could really learn from that midset. Leading up to the combine, Watkins hyped fans up by saying he would run a record setting time. His 4.43 official team underwhelmed but his game tape indicates plenty of speed for seperation at the next level. Watkin’s swagger and confidence are something the Raiders have been void of for years.
He elected to sit on his 40 time at the pro-day. Instead, Watkins made an impression with his route running, soft hands, and accelartion just like he did on tape and at the combine.
From a purely football perspective, Watkins can impact games after the catch or going deep. He can run screens, end arounds, and has plenty of value as a returner. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olsen could utilize Watkins and build the team’s offense around Watkins. For the first time in a long time, The Raiders could have an offensive identity with Watkins ability to change games(The Way Mcfadden was suppossed). He can line up in the slot and free up space for Moore or Rivera. He is fast enough to stretch the field for Streater and Holmes. Watkin’s hands are reliable enough for whoever trots out at QB for the Raiders. Neither is he afraid to open up wholes for a Raider running back.
The biggest knock on Watkins is he does not do anything spectacular. listed under 6’2 he does not very impressive size, nor is his 40 time spectacular, but his ability to impact games is surely spectacular. He is not the Big Fitzgerald, Megatron, or Julio jones. However, he is not the liability that Darius Heyward-Bey was either.
Watkins had the consistence in college that DHB did not out of Maryland, and Watkins played with another NFL quality reciver (Imagine if he didn’t?). DHB was suppossed to be the number one reciever for years to come, but has shown he is only a #3 reciever on his best day. Therefore, fans and management should not be weary of selecting a reciever high in the draft even if their is enough depth in the draft. The Raiders have yet to recover from Tim Brown days of having a true number one reciver. Selecting Watkins will allow Moore and Streater to thrive in the complimentary roles they are suited for.
The Raiders can not afford to let history repeat itself. Selecting Watkins makes too much sense for the Raiders. Watkins is one of the best prospects in the entire draft, he fills a team need, has a high ceiling, has swagger, and can impact games. This draft is too important for the Raiders to miss on, and Watkins has been labeled the can not miss player in the draft.
Defensive Players like Clowney and Mack come around once in a while too. But with Watkins you are talking about a guy who can legitimately score anytime he touches the ball, anywhere on the field. That is a value you don’t pass on as their will be other defensive prospects in FA and in later rounds.
He is the impact player Reggie Mckenzie and Dennis Allen are looking for, and the identity Mark Davis is looking for. It is becoming more evident the Raiders are not going to find that guy in Free agency. All the team needs to do is make the selection at #5 and let this guy dominate on sundays.
If he can make Tahj Boyd shine in college, surely he can do the same for any of the Raiders QBs. The Raiders do not need to draft a quarterback at the top of the draft, as they will have to wait for him to develop. Watkins is pro-ready and is the Nasty, Fast, and explosive player whom could be the face of the franchise for years to come. As an organization desperate to give their city and fanbase some hope of winning, Sammy Watkins has to be the pick when the may 2nd draft roles around.