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Sammy Watkins in 2018: Pro Bowler or bust?

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It’s either one or the other this year for the fifth-year wide receiver.

Sammy Watkins taking questions. | Chiefs.com

Something significant jumped out at me as I was producing Wednesday’s Arrowheadlines.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ shiny new toy, 25-year-old wide receiver Sammy Watkins, popped up twice, but the interesting part was the vast difference in story tones.

The first was a piece from legendary NFL executive Gil Brandt, who projected a first-time Pro Bowler for each AFC team in 2018. When it came to the Chiefs, you guessed it. Brandt chose Watkins.

Projecting one future first-time Pro Bowler for each AFC team

“Watkins only has one 1,000-yard season on his résumé, but he has averaged 15.9 yards per catch in his career, the third-best mark in the NFL from 2014 to ‘17 among those with 150-plus catches,” Brandt wrote. “Quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ strong arm will mesh well with Watkins’ long-ball skills. It’s true that he could be overshadowed on an offense that also includes Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce — but I think Mahomes will turn to Watkins enough to give him a chance to shine.”

Then, on the same day, Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport went in a very different direction when it came to Watkins. His tone was much more negative.

NFL Players Trying to Avoid the Bust Label in 2018

“In four NFL seasons, Watkins has topped 1,000 receiving yards exactly once—back in 2015 with the Buffalo Bills,” Davenport wrote. “Since then, Watkins has missed nine games and barely cracked 1,000 yards in the last two seasons combined. The same Bills team that traded an extra first-round pick to Cleveland to move up and draft Watkins passed on picking up his option and dealt him to Los Angeles ... Last year with the Rams, Watkins did score eight touchdowns. But he reeled in just 55.7 percent of his targets and managed just 593 yards.”

My take

The fascinating thing to me is that both of these articles came out on the very same day, and, to be fair, both made good points.

To Brandt’s point, Watkins flashed greatness back in Buffalo, and to Davenport’s, that was three years ago, bro.

I had an opportunity to watch all six open Chiefs OTAs sessions this offseason, and I found that Watkins—in shorts, as opposed to in pads—definitely looked the part. His hands could be better than any receiver I have ever seen.

And as I watched, I thought about his role this upcoming season.

In Buffalo, as the fourth overall pick in 2014, Watkins was expected to be the guy. It isn’t that way in Kansas City. In base looks, Watkins will be Patrick Mahomes’ third option—in others, he could be the fourth.

I think the Chiefs know that, and I think they knew it when general manager Brett Veach signed him to that lucrative three year, $48 million contract.

Veach and the Chiefs have taken what they believe to be an elite wide receiver and dropped him in a role-player position. We’ve seen that not all receivers across the league know how to handle a situation like this, but to Watkins’ credit, thus far, he hasn’t come off like he has an ego teams typically worry about.

Chris Conley has been quoted in saying Watkins is learning Andy Reid’s complex offensive playbook faster than anyone he has ever seen.

It’s a great, classic sports debate, and I can see both sides, but I’m leaning Pro Bowler more than bust in ‘18. How about you?

Poll

What’s more likely for Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 92%
    Pro Bowler
    (1680 votes)
  • 7%
    Bust
    (139 votes)
1819 votes total Vote Now