NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has made no secret of his appreciation for the skills of former Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, calling him a top-10 pick and a franchise-caliber receiver at the NFL Scouting Combine two weeks ago. Thursday on "NFL AM," Mayock took that praise a step further, calling Watkins one of the best wide receivers he has seen on tape in the last decade.
"Because his combine was so good a couple weeks ago, I think all he's going to do is catch the football (at Clemson's pro day Thursday), and if he doesn't get hurt, he's a top-10 pick," Mayock said.
So what sort of rarified company does that place Watkins in? A few elite NFL receivers who have been drafted in the past 10 drafts: A.J. Green (Georgia/Bengals), Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech/Lions), Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State/Cowboys), Roddy White (UAB/Falcons), Larry Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh/Cardinals). All were first-round picks.
And that only scratches the surface. Julio Jones, Michael Crabtree and DeSean Jackson deepen the picture. That doesn't mean there haven't been more than a few first-round busts at the position. The Raiders never got first-round mileage from Darrius Heyward-Bey before releasing him last March. And don't ask the Lions about Mike Williams as the No. 10 pick in 2005.
But if Watkins joins the former class, a top-10 pick will be a worthy investment.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.