Inside the Box: Sammy Watkins vs Marqise Lee
I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it. – Terry Pratchett
A year ago, Marqise Lee won the Biletnikoff Award as college football’s best receiver. Had he been draft eligible, he would have almost certainly been the first receiver off the board. Sammy Watkins probably would have been the third receiver selected, although he was coming off of a disappointing, injury-prone season that saw him play second fiddle to DeAndre Hopkins. (Jon Moore recently compared Watkins and Hopkins and found they were very similar.)
Fast forward a year and Watkins is gaining steam as a dark horse candidate to go No. 2 overall, while Lee – fresh off of a disappointing Combine 40 time – is widely anticipated to fall into the beginning of the second round. Many of my favorite NFL writers are listing Watkins among the best wide receiver prospects in recent memory and writing Lee off as a probable bust with a low ceiling even in the best case.
Watkins over Lee seems like a rare area where film watchers and metrics guys agree, but should any of us buy this rabid meme? Or are we all focusing on the wrong numbers/tapes?