It was not a surprise to see most of the key Detroit decision makers attend Clemson's pro day to get a better look at the top receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft. It wasn't all that startling to see the team meet with Watkins and his family for dinner as part of the pre-draft process, either.
But it is a little different to see a team gush so openly about a player that would appear to fit in their future plans.
"He's an outstanding player," general manager Martin Mayhew told MLive.com. "Obviously, he's got the speed, he's got the quickness, he's got the playmaking ability. Another guy you can just get the ball in his hands and he can make something happen.
"And the big games that he played, he had some of his best performances. He's a clutch guy, he's a clutch performer."
Watkins turned in a superb final season for Clemson and has pretty solidly established himself atop Mike Mayock's positional rankings at wide receiver. Even he has entertained the thought of landing in Detroit by posting a photo on Instagram saying he could be the perfect complement to Calvin Johnson, complete with a nickname to match.
Detroit made a splash in free agency by signing the sure-handed Golden Tate from the Seahawks to add to an already dangerous offense. While he represents a solid option for the team across from Johnson, the addition of the 6-foot-1, 211-pound Watkins would cause even more angst for defensive coordinators around the league.
The Lions hold the No. 10 overall pick in the draft, but it seems likely that Watkins will be off the board at that point based on recent NFL.com mock drafts. From the sound of Mayhew's comments, however, it appears the team is definitly entertaining the possibility of trading up to give quarterback Matthew Stafford another weapon.
"I think the depth of the draft is obviously a factor, in terms of you start thinking about trading up, what are you missing out on?" Mayhew said. "But sometimes the guys are elite players who are difference-makers.
"If you're picking 10, and there's five elite players, and you can get one of those guys (in the top five), we think there's value in (doing that)."
The Rams at No. 2 overall and the Raiders at No. 5 could be prime candidates to trade picks with if Mayhew is indeed interested in going up to get a player like Watkins. With needs at cornerback, safety and tackle, however, all the recent talk about Watkins might just be for nothing come May.
Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.