Before the draft, the Browns tried to make everyone think they’d select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. That everyone included someone named Sammy Watkins.
“I met with [G.M. Ray Farmer] probably a week before the combine, so yeah, in my head I thought I was going to get drafted there because Josh Gordon got into some trouble. Yeah,” Watkins told Cleveland reporters in advance of Sundays game between the Bills and the Browns.
Ultimately, Watkins was on the board when the Browns were on the clock. The Browns traded down, the Bills traded up, and Watkins now works in Buffalo.
“Being a first-round pick and having someone come up and get you, that’s the best feeling ever,” Watkins said. “Having someone trust you and think that you’re good enough to come up and get.”
The Bills gave up a 2015 first-round pick (and a 2015 fourth-round pick) to get Watkins. Does that add pressure?
“Not at all,” Watkins said. “I think that I’ve met their expectations throughout the course of this year, and I’ve been getting better every week. I’m doing good, and I think I’m going to keep improving and getting better.”
Watkins has been very good. But other receivers taken in the first round have played well, too. In hindsight, wouldn’t the Bills be in the same shape if they’d waited for Odell Beckham Jr. and saved the first-round and fourth-round picks?
Still, Watkins and Beckham aren’t rivals. They’re friends.
“We’re very close,” Watkins said. “I text him. We talk, and I wish the best for him. We all push each other every week. I push him; he pushes me. I watch him play; he watches me. Yeah, I try to go out there every week and beat his numbers and beat everybody’s numbers. That’s the ultimate goal — to be the best. That’s what he’s been doing. He’s been proving to everybody that he’s an elite receiver, a top receiver, and I think I’ve been doing the same.”
Watkins is right, but Beckham has done something that none of the other rookie receivers — and few in league history — have accomplished. If that pushes Watkins to make a highlight-reel catch for the ages, everybody wins.