From the Orange Bowl to the Big Apple? McShay projects Sammy Watkins to Jets

ESPN analyst has Clemson All-American at the top of his list of six first-round wide receivers

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins turns upfield to score a 44-yard touchdown against Georgia Tech.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins turns upfield to score a 44-yard touchdown against Georgia Tech.

Could Sammy Watkins be going from the Big Orange to the Big Apple?

ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay thinks so.

In his first mock draft for 2014, McShay has Clemson's All-America wide receiver going to the New York Jets with the No. 13 pick.

Watkins is familiar with the Jets, and vice versa. Current Jets coach Rex Ryan has been a frequent visitor to Clemson over the past three years, and his son, Seth, is a walk-on freshman wide receiver with the Tigers.

McShay projects Watkins as the first receiver taken in the draft.

"Some Jets fans will say that they need a QB, but they just took one last year in Geno Smith and they will (and should) give him time to develop," McShay wrote. "New York has good talent on defense, so the biggest issues to address are the offensive skill positions and O-line.

"Watkins is perfect for what the Jets need, a guy who possesses top-level acceleration and has a second gear when he needs it. Especially with Santonio Holmes likely gone after this season, the Jets need a vertical and run-after-catch threat, and Watkins could be a big difference-maker for them. At No. 13, he's a good value pick."

Going into Clemson's Orange Bowl finale against Ohio State, Watkins has 225 catches in three seasons, for 3,170 yards and 35 touchdowns. This season, the Biletnikoff Award finalist ranks in the top 15 nationally in receptions and reception yards per game. He is the only player in the nation with two touchdown catches of 90 yards or more.

Watkins is one six receivers projected by McShay as first-rounders, joining Southern California Marqise Lee, Texas A&M's Mike Evans, Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews, Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin, and Colorado's Paul Richardson.

Teams that McShay predicts will spend a first-round draft pick on the wide receiver are Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Carolina, Kansas City and the Jets.

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