The Sammy Watkins Danger Sunday is Real


The Cleveland Browns traded the right to draft Sammy Watkins to the Buffalo Bills on Draft Night. Today that decision could come back to haunt the Brownies as they try to stay right in the thick of the AFC Playoff Race. We covered yesterday how the Watkins deal has to be judged taking Taylor Gabriel into account. Based on Pro Football Focus ratings and just basic statistics I think you will be surprised what we found (New Window).

While Gabriel has made the decision to not draft Watkins easier, the first and fourth round picks were far more than enough already, Watkins still presents a very real danger for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. This is true even with limited QB Kyle Orton at quarterback for the Bills.

Watkins has been everything we expected coming into the season. He has been dynamic with the ball in his hands, made some big plays and struggled through some injuries, although he hasn’t missed a game. In his 11 games he has caught 48 of the 89 balls thrown his way for just under 700 yards. He has 5 touchdowns and a long of 84 yards. Of his 48 catches 36 have gone for first downs, pretty impressive number.

Yet when you look at his game long it shows interesting information about how those catches have come. In order, starting in Week 1, this is Watkins catches per game: 3, 8, 2, 4, 7, 2, 9, 3, 4, 3 and 3. His yards per game is also interesting: 31, 117, 19, 30, 87, 27, 122, 157, 27, 32 and 35. It seems that Watkins is slowing down as the season goes on. No surprise as most NFL rookies do. The hope was that he would improve with time with Orton as the QB but that hasn’t happened.

As all good receivers Watkins is helpful in taking coverage and attention away from the other pass catching threats as well as opening up the running game. When Watkins runs deep he opens up the underneath route. When he runs a shallow cross from right to left, he pulls a linebacker with him a bit opening the slant route from left to right.

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He also is just one play away from breaking a game wide open. Much like Antonio Brown, he could give the Browns fits in a variety of ways. Receiver screens, deep passes and crossing routes all open up Watkins to use his top flight speed.

It will be interesting to see how the Browns choose to cover the rookie superstar. Do they isolate star Joe Haden on him one on one and shade coverage to other areas? Do they let Haden shutdown Robert Woods or Mike Williams and just bracket cover Watkins all game long? How do the Browns try to make up for the loss of stud FS Tashaun Gipson in the process?

Sammy Watkins is a tough cover, even if he is trailing off in the second half of the season statistically. How the Browns try to cover him, and what it does to open up the offense for other players will be huge in deciding tomorrows game.

How big of a danger is Sammy Watkins for the Cleveland Browns tomorrow?