2014 NFL Draft: Sammy Watkins & the history of receivers picked in the top 10

Al Bello

There are no sure things in the NFL Draft.

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins is becoming a popular pick in mock drafts and a fan favorite for the St. Louis Rams. Understandably so, it's been a long time since the Rams had a real difference maker at the position. Of course, there are some arguments for going another direction with that pick, not the least of which is the team's recent investment in receivers, including trading up to the eighth spot in the first round of last year's draft to get Tavon Austin.

Over at Big Cat Country, our Jaguars blog, they had a post today making the case against taking Watkins at the third pick. It's obviously a little different situation for them, given the Justin Blackmon situation there.

Personally, I'm torn. I really like Watkins, and think he's the rare receiver that has the talent to be a real game-changer. I thought the same thing about Austin, and I still do. I'm just not sure what to make of the Rams offensive talent as long as Brian Schottenheimer's got them all catching four-yard dumpoffs in the flat.

One thing that was interesting in that BCC post was the table below, charting the success, or lack of, by receivers taken in the top 10 picks of the first round of the NFL Draft. This is the list of receivers picked in the top 10 from 1993 through 2011. It's definitely a mixed bag.

Games Receiving
Year Pick Player From To G GS Rec Yds TD College/Univ
1995 8 Joey Galloway 1995 2010 198 175 701 10950 77 Ohio St.
1996 1 Keyshawn Johnson 1996 2006 167 162 814 10571 64 USC
1999 6 Torry Holt 1999 2009 173 158 920 13382 74 North Carolina St.
2004 3 Larry Fitzgerald 2004 2013 156 155 846 11367 87 Pittsburgh
2003 3 Andre Johnson 2003 2013 154 154 927 12661 61 Miami (FL)
1993 7 Curtis Conway 1993 2004 167 144 594 8230 52 USC
2000 8 Plaxico Burress 2000 2013 148 138 553 8499 64 Michigan St.
1996 7 Terry Glenn 1996 2007 137 127 593 8823 44 Ohio St.
1997 7 Ike Hilliard 1997 2008 161 106 546 6397 35 Florida
2007 2 Calvin Johnson 2007 2013 106 101 572 9328 66 Georgia Tech
2004 7 Roy Williams 2004 2011 115 94 393 5715 44 Texas
2005 3 Braylon Edwards 2005 2012 112 93 359 5522 40 Michigan
2000 10 Travis Taylor 2000 2007 101 90 312 4017 22 Florida
1995 4 Michael Westbrook 1995 2002 89 72 285 4374 26 Colorado
2001 9 Koren Robinson 2001 2008 96 70 294 4244 16 North Carolina St.
1995 10 J.J. Stokes 1995 2003 118 69 342 4293 30 UCLA
2009 7 Darrius Heyward-Bey 2009 2013 72 63 169 2380 12 Maryland
1999 8 David Boston 1999 2005 75 61 315 4699 25 Ohio St.
2009 10 Michael Crabtree 2009 2013 63 61 279 3629 22 Texas Tech
2000 4 Peter Warrick 2000 2005 79 60 275 2991 18 Florida St.
2004 9 Reggie Williams 2004 2008 79 53 189 2322 18 Washington
2011 4 A.J. Green 2011 2013 47 47 260 3833 29 Georgia
2007 9 Ted Ginn 2007 2013 104 40 197 2604 11 Ohio St.
2011 6 Julio Jones 2011 2013 34 33 174 2737 20 Alabama
2005 10 Mike Williams 2005 2011 56 30 127 1526 5 USC
2001 8 David Terrell 2001 2005 54 29 128 1602 9 Michigan
2005 7 Troy Williamson 2005 2009 49 24 87 1131 4 South Carolina
2003 2 Charles Rogers 2003 2005 15 9 36 440 4 Michigan St.

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/25/2014.

Premium Positions

This also stems back to just a personal philosophy of what I think is worth taking in the Top 10, let alone Top 3 in the NFL Draft. There are a handful of position I would not touch in the Top 10, because I feel the Top 10 should be where you try to find that elite talent at a premium position. That means I look for a pass rusher (can be a linebacker if and only if they are primarily used as a pass rusher), a quarterback or a cornerback (though they need to be elite level prospect). Those are what I would call "premium" positions.

I'm torn on the safety position, because I believe it's trending to the premium side in the modern NFL.

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