The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a wide receiver after releasing Mike Williams, and Sammy Watkins is generally seen as the best receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft. Making the case for his selection isn't all that difficult -- but we're going to do it anyway.
Why Watkins is a realistic option
To be completely honest, I'm not sure Sammy Watkins is a realistic option for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's the best receiver in this class, despite some rumblings that some teams view Mike Evans as the better player. The St. Louis Rams at number two are the most obvious candidates to take him, but any of the other top six could draft Watkins ahead of the Buccaneers.
Still, when it comes to need and fit, Watkins would be a terrific get for the Bucs. After releasing Mike Williams, the only competent receiver on their roster is Vincent Jackson. Watkins would step into a starting role, and provide some explosiveness and speed that is, overall, missing from the team's offense. He'd be a terrific weapon for Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, or whichever quarterback they'll draft.
Why Sammy Watkins fits the Buccaneers
He's the best wide receiver in this draft, and the Bucs have a massive need at receiver.
Oh, you want more than that? Okay, he's speedy, explosive and makes things happen after the catch. Whereas Vincent Jackson is the master of contested catches, especially down the field, Watkins is smaller and shiftier, with still enough size and strength to win jump-ball battles. He has a wide catching radius and good hands, and the agility and skills necessary to separate from cornerbacks in the NFL. He'd be a real complement to Jackson's skills, rather than being a similar receiver.
More than that, Watkins provides speed in space for Jeff Tedford's offense. His highlights are filled with him bailing out his quarterback, but also with getting the ball in space and then making things happen on his own. That's what Tedford wants in his skill position players, and that's what Watkins brings to the table. With two seasons of over 1,200 receiving yards and 27 total touchdowns under his belt, despite mediocre quarterback play, he has the production you want out of a top receiver as well.
More reasons? Okay: he's a true number one receiver, who should be a productive player for a long time to come. He'd be a home-grown receiving star, the kind the Bucs haven't seen since probably Mark Carrier. He'd provide an instant boost to an anemic offense. Finally, he'd likely be the best player available on the board -- if he falls to number seven.
What other people said about him
"There's no debate here," Cosell said. "I think Sammy Watkins, based on what I've seen, is the best wide receiver in this draft."
Cosell went on to say Watkins is the best since that 2010 draft when Green and Jones were taken in the first round.
I am not sure that Sammy Watkins will be the first wide receiver taken on draft day, but I can tell you that he has everything you could want in a wide receiver. I looked high and low for something to knock on this kid and came away empty. Even his blocking was at least average, maybe above average on some plays. He isn't some one-year wonder, either. At a little over 6'0, 211 pounds, per his combine measurements, he has good size as well.
Everything I saw in those five games tells me that Sammy Watkins is about as close as you will get to a sure thing in this draft, and he is going to make some offensive coordinator very happy!
"He can pretty much do everything," one scout said. "He's fast. He makes plays. Catches the hell out of the ball. Knows how to play." Caught 240 passes (101 in 2013) for 3,391 yards (14.1-yard average) and 27 touchdowns. "He'll be a great kickoff return guy, too," another scout said. "But he won't do that very long. Not real tall but he's thick. He looks like a running back more than a wide receiver."