Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver Sammy Watkins has received a lot of criticism since entering the league, but Chad Ochocinco didn’t hesitate to call him elite.
It’s been quite the debate ever since Sammy Watkins entered the league in 2014 — is he an elite receiver or not? He was definitely scouted as an elite receiver and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills to be an elite receiver, but the question remains.
Luckily, Chad Ochocinco has all the answers.
A Buffalo Bills‘ fan reached out to Chad Ochocinco recently and suggested he come out of retirement and join the Bills. Here’s the original tweet sent out:
So, what does this have to do with Sammy Watkins? Well, Ochocinco replied:
Coming from Chad Ochocinco himself, it’s hard to disagree with him. Watkins definitely has a lot of talent and still plenty of room to grow, but has he done enough to be named elite at this part of his career?
There’s definitely a lot to look at when making that decision.
In my opinion, there are several traits that a receiver must have before being named elite. The main ones are production, consistency, durability, playmaking ability and their role in the locker room. Let’s run through each of these and see how Sammy Watkins fares in each area.
In terms of production, Sammy Watkins definitely compares to some of the league’s best at the position. Let’s look at his most productive season so far in 2015. Watkins finished with 60 receptions, 1,047 yards and 9 touchdowns in just 13 games. If he had played a full season and stayed on that same pace, he could have finished with 71 catches, 1,243 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest downfalls in Watkins’ short career thus far has been his durability and injury history. Since joining the Buffalo Bills in 2014, he has been limited due to injuries to his ribs, groin, hip, hamstring, calf, ankle and most recently his foot, which kept him off the field for half of last season. It’s hard to call any player elite — at any position — when they are constantly dealing with injuries. Elite players need to be durable because they are the most relied on.
When the Buffalo Bills needed Watkins last season, he wasn’t there.
That brings us to the next topic — consistency. Obviously, it’s hard to be consistent when you’re not playing, but even when Watkins was playing he wasn’t always consistent. Let’s take the second half of the 2015 season and the 8 games he played last season for example.
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In the final 9 games of 2015, Watkins was just coming off an ankle injury and completely caught fire. He would total 49 catches for 900 yards and 7 touchdowns in that span. Over that same span, he ranked fourth in the NFL in catches, third in yards and third and third in touchdowns.
He followed that up with a disappointing season last year. Playing a total of 8 games, Watkins never found a groove at all. His best game came against the Miami Dolphins Week 16 when he finished with 7 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown. However, he would only total 21 catches, 276 yards and one touchdown the other 7 games.
As far as being healthy, Watkins hasn’t shown any kind of consistency. Even when playing, though, there’s still no real consistency being shown, which definitely hurts Watkins’ case for being elite.
There’s two traits left — leadership and playmaking ability.
Much like everything else, Sammy Watkins‘ injuries have hurt his ability to be a leader on this team. It’s very hard for anyone to lead from the sidelines, so I’ll keep this one short. In order for Watkins to be seen as a leader on this team and more specifically this offense, he’s going to need to get healthy and make a difference on the field, first.
One thing he does have going for him, though, is his playmaking ability. There’s no questioning the fact that defenses are scared to match up against Watkins. His speed, route-running ability and ability to find the ball and bring it down are unreal. He’s one of those receivers that just needs his ball thrown in his direction — he’ll do the rest.
In summary, I would say Watkins has two of the five biggest traits needed to be an elite receiver — playmaking ability and production. Unfortunately, both of those traits have been overshadowed by not being healthy and not being on the field.
With a healthy 2017 season, Sammy Watkins can start to silence a lot of that doubt, but he just simply hasn’t done enough in the NFL yet to be viewed as an elite receiver. I definitely feel he will be one at some point, but that time hasn’t come yet.
Prove me wrong, Sammy.
What’s your take on this debate? Leave your thoughts below!