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Buffalo Bills: Impact Rookie – Sammy Watkins
- Updated: July 17, 2014
Happy New Year football fans!
With rookies reporting to training camp starting this week, Standing O Sports will be giving a preview on one rookie from each team that will make the biggest impact on their squad in the 2014 season.
Today, the Buffalo Bills rookies reported to training camp in Pittsford, NY.
Call me Captain Obvious, but the rookie that’ll make the biggest impact on the 2014 Buffalo Bills campaign is first round pick Sammy Watkins.
He was the biggest offensive weapon in the NFL draft this May, which is why he was drafted No. 4 overall to a team that’s been playing catch up to the likes of the Patriots and Miami Dolphins for over a decade, who added their own firepower last offseason with Mike Wallace taking his talents to South Beach.
Watkins has all the skills to be an elite receiver in the NFL. He runs a full route tree, performed well at Clemson when the lights shined brightest, specifically in his last college game when he tagged 16 receptions for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns vs. Ohio State in the shootout that was this year’s Orange Bowl.
That includes this leaping grab late in the third quarter:
That play shows Watkins’ ability to stretch the field and go vertical, both with a go-route and with his leaping ability.
Sammy Watkins can do much more than just that.
He’s been incredibly effective in the screen game and with intermediate routes. His quarterback at Clemson, Tajh Boyd, was at his best when throwing short, according to NFL.com. Of course, Watkins was a huge part of that, and was able to break a lot of those short passes into huge gains with yards after the catch.
The 6’1 wide out is walking into an ideal situation in Buffalo (I know, weird to say, right?). He doesn’t need to be the number one weapon in the offense.
Not at first, anyway. That role is reserved for CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson, and the always effective Buffalo running game.
The Bills have added depth at every skill position. The stable of backs that is headlined by Spiller and Jackson now includes Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon. Brown was an effective spell back for LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia, and Dixon served the same role with Frank Gore for years in San Francisco. If that isn’t commitment to the ground game, then I don’t know what is.
They did the same with their wide receiver corps, and it’ll take even more pressure off of Watkins.
While the thought of Stevie Johnson and Sammy Watkins on the same team would’ve left the AFC East defensive coordinators shaking in their boots, the Bills instead traded the troubled wide-out to the 49ers and traded for another receiver with off the field issues, Mike Williams.
Williams was a solid #2 option in Tampa Bay with a young quarterback, and will fit the same role in Orchard Park. This gives the Bills two top 10 draft picks at wide-out.
Former second round pick Robert Woods averaged over 14 yards per catch last season, and will at the very least be the third option coming out of camp.
The Bills ran the third most plays of any team in the NFL last season, which bodes well for offense that GM Buddy Nix has rebuilt this offseason.
Suddenly, the Bills offense isn’t a one trick pony. The options for EJ Manuel are plentiful, and the raw talent is there.
The success of the Bills in 2014 will boil down to if Manuel can get this solid group of receivers, led by Watkins, the ball. While the chemistry isn’t there yet, it’s only the first day of training camp, and Buffalo has enough depth around Watkins to potentially get over some early season growing pains.
The Bills face two top ten defenses in the first quarter of the 2014 season in the Chargers and the Bears.
If they can squeeze past that tough opening schedule utilizing the depth they’ve built this offseason, Watkins could be cleared for takeoff by the time October comes around.