My rundown through the entire first round of the NFL draft continues as I examine the Detroit Lions who hold the #10 pick in the first round.
The Pick: Sammy Watkins – WR – Clemson
The only thing standing between Sammy Watkins and being tagged as the best wide receiver in the NFL draft was not blowing it at the scouting combine. He didn’t, running a 40-yard dash in the 4.3 range and putting together a very solid workout. There is no longer a question that his blend of speed, toughness, good hands, and explosive lower body strength make him one of those complete threats who can beat defenses deep or make the tough catches over the middle.
Why: Calvin Johnson needs someone to take heat off him
Not much has changed for the Detroit Lions offense. It still seems like the Calvin Johnson show for their passing attack year in and year out. Not that it’s a bad thing since he posted over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns but it’s starting to become clear that the all-world receiver is beginning to wear down. Years of constant attention from defenses have taken a toll on his seemingly invincible body. He missed two games last season with injuries, the first time that’s happened since 2010. If Detroit wishes for him to stay “Megatron” for the next few years they have to start thinking about finding somebody who can take the heat off him. A bonafide deep threat like Watkins would do the trick.
Argument: Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard can solve bigger problem
The problem is the Detroit Lions have bigger needs on their roster. It wasn’t wide receivers but a struggling secondary that often let them down in critical moments last season. The cornerback position remains relatively weak and in need of a serious addition of talent if they wish to finish what they started when they let the NFC North slip away late last season. They have their pick of the top two prospects on the board in Justin Gilbert of OklahomaState or Darqueze Dennard of MichiganState. Both are excellent in press cover, Gilbert being the better athlete while Dennard is the harder worker. Either could solve so many issues on that defense.
Counter-argument: Corner class is very deep and Watkins is better prospect
Something to remember about this NFL draft is that the cornerback class is very deep in terms of talent. The Detroit Lions could easily land a potential starter for their needs in the second or even third round, which diminishes their need to take one early. Besides, Watkins is a higher rated prospect than Gilbert or Dennard. The fact he fills another key team need should put to bed any thoughts of debating which direction they should go. Matthew Stafford could look at an MVP caliber year with those two beasts catching the ball.
That is why I would take Sammy Watkins if I were in charge. What are your thoughts?