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NFL Prospect Focus: Sammy Watkins and Max Bullough

After watching more tape, one was upgraded, and one was downgraded. Greg Gabriel

February 15, 2014
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I wrote up both Watkins and Bullough for the NFP early in the season when most of the tape I had to view was from 2012, plus a couple of 2013 games. Many times, players don’t change that much through a season. In each of these cases, they changed a lot.

Sammy Watkins – Wide Receiver – Clemson

Size – 6004e – 203e – 4.47e

Strong Points – Size, long arms, hands, route running, adjust to the ball, run after catch, returns kicks, very productive, competitive

Weak Points – Just an adequate blocker, doesn’t have a twin brother

Summation – Watkins is a third-year junior and has been a starter since midway through his freshman year. He is Clemson’s go-to receiver and had a very productive season. On the year, he had 101 receptions for 1464 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also returned kickoffs for a 20 yard average. If the only game you saw was the Orange Bowl, you would have seen the kind of talent Watkins is. In that game he caught 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
Watkins has good, but not great size. He will measure at about 6004 – 203 at the combine. While he doesn’t have the height of players like Alshon Jeffery and Megatron, he has very long arms that allow him to play taller than he is. He is an explosive athlete, with excellent change of direction and body control. He has speed, but he is not sprinter fast. He should run in the 4.47 range at the Combine. While he is not a 4.3 type, he has great acceleration. He is a very physical player when he has the ball in his hands and is a top competitor. I really like the way he competes for the ball in traffic.
Watkins is used often on bubble screens and shows he can snatch the ball and get up field quickly. When the ball is in his hands, he is like a running back, with good lean, quick moves to make people miss, and power. The other types of routes he runs are slants, comebacks, outs and go’s. He does a good job setting up defenders with double moves on some of his deeper routes. On the shorter routes, he shows his excellent body control as he can sink his hips and get out of cuts quickly to gain separation. He is very good at adjusting his routes and finding an open seam in zone. He has excellent hands and always tries to snatch the ball.
Early in the year, I thought that Watkins was very talented but raw. While I still feel he has to improve his route running skills to be a top NFL route runner, I have no doubt that he will. Watkins has excellent big play ability, and while he won’t be a clubs number one receiver as a rookie, he should be by his second year. I have no doubt that he will be the first receiver drafted come May.

Grade A 7.2

Max Bullough – Linebacker – Michigan State

Size – 6027 – 265 – 4.90e

Strong Points – Instincts, very productive in 2012, shed, tackling, defense inside run

Weak Points – Got heavy and slowed down, lacks range, average athlete, pass drop and coverage.

Summation – Bullough has been a three-year starter at Mike linebacker for Michigan State. If all you saw was 2012 tape, you would have thought that Bullough was going to be a premium round pick in the 2014 Draft. In 2012, he was a quick-reacting, instinctive player who made sideline-to-sideline plays. He looked like a top athlete for the position and was a very physical player who could shed quickly and tackle. He was good in coverage with very good receiver awareness.
Fast forward to 2013, and this was not the same player. His playing weight was about 20 pounds heavier than 2012, and he lost speed and agility. Plays that were routine in 2012, he couldn’t make in 2013. While he still has the top instincts, he wasn’t nearly as productive. The range I saw in 2012 was not there. In coverage, he looked slow in his drops and didn’t have the suddenness I saw before. When you figure in that he was suspended from playing in the Rose Bowl, you have to figure that scouts will need to do a lot of research on this player.
In August, I thought that Bullough had a chance to be a poor man’s Luke Kuechly. That is not the case anymore. He will be a “wildcard” selection in this year’s Draft. Teams won’t know if they are buying the 2012 player or the 2013 player. How he performs at the Combine and his pro day will have a lot of say in where he gets drafted. He will probably interview as much, if not more than any player at the Combine, and how he performs in the interviews will be very important. Off of this year’s tape, I doubt if he can be an eventual starter. The speed and athletic ability he showed this year says he is limited to being a 3-4 inside linebacker.

Grade – C 6.4

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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