.@SwaggyyL I see Watkins as an elite-level wide receiver prospect. Up there with AJ Green, Julio Jones.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 16, 2014
You’ve also heard that the entire Detroit Lions front office was in attendance at Watkins’ Pro Day, where Martin Mayhew was clearly impressed. And finally, there was Watkins himself trolling Lions fans on twitter.
At this point, its extremely unlikely that Watkins ever makes it to the 10th pick, where the Lions currently sit. Last month SLR’s Braden Shackelford wrote this piece discussing the possibility of trading up for Watkins and what it may cost the Lions based on trade value charts. Here’s a look at what draft history tells us it may cost.
A year ago, the Miami Dolphins were able to move from the 12th pick to the 3rd pick to grab Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan. The gave up their second-round pick in the process. The St. Louis Rams also moved into the top 10 a year ago to grab wide receiver Tavon Austin out of West Virginia with the 8th pick. The gave up the 16th pick in addition to their second, third, and seventh-round selections.
In 2012, the Washington Redskins famously sacrificed the 6th pick of the draft, in addition to their second-round pick and two future first-round picks, in order to draft Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. This trade, however, is likely not a good precedent set as the value of a potential franchise quarterback is higher than every other position. A more helpful precedent from 2012 is the Dallas Cowboys trading for the sixth pick to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. The gave up the 14th pick and their second-round selection.
To see a team move into the top 10 to select the top wide receiver in the draft is not uncommon. In addition to the Rams move for Tavon Austin in 2013, both Justin Blackmon (2012) and Julio Jones (2011) came off the board when the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons, respectively, traded up for them. In the case of Blackmon, the Jaguars move from the 7th pick to the 5th, requiring them to part with only their fourth-round pick. The Falcons, moving up from the 26th pick, gave up their second and fourth-round picks AND their first and fourth-round selections in the 2012 NFL Draft.
There is certainly some precedent for movement within the top 10, including moves for wide receivers. So where does this leave the Lions? Well, the good news is that many experts are calling this the deepest draft class they have ever seen. Extremely talented players are going to be available late in the draft, meaning those late round picks are going to be that much more valuable. While many would like the Lions to trade down and gather more picks, it also requires a partner. Picks are valuable, and nobody wants to part with them.
That’s why I believe that in this 2014 NFL Draft, the Lions can move up for a cheaper price than in the past. This draft is deep. There will be week one starters available in the third-round.
If the Lions brass decides Watkins is their guy, they could very well trade with the St. Louis Rams for the 2nd pick. This would probably require Detroit’s first, second, and fourth-round selections. However, if Watkins is available with the 5th or 6th pick, Detroit may be able to get that pick with just their first and third-round selections.
Recent draft history tells us Detroit won’t have to give up any picks in future years to move up a few spots. For a guy like Sammy Watkins, who is already compared to the likes of AJ Green, that’s worth it.
What do you think, Lions fans? What is Sammy Watkins worth?