TAMPA, Fla. — The Sammy Watkins who amassed 3,391 receiving yards in three collegiate seasons?
And ran a 10.57 in the 100-meter dash?
And scored 12 touchdowns on 101 catches last year?
That guy was a “mess,” and nothing like the new and improved and faster – yes, faster – Sammy Watkins that NFL scouts will see this week, Watkins told The State as he prepared for the NFL Combine, which will begin Thursday in Indianapolis.
“I am 10 times faster than I was in college,” Watkins said. “My body was so messed up that I can get 10 times faster. I was using 60 percent of my body, and I have 40 percent more I need to get out.”
A faster Watkins is a tough concept to imagine, but he’s planning on proving it when he runs the 40-yard dash at the combine. He will prove it in a lot of areas, he says, as he plans to participate in all drills except the shuttle and L-cone drills.
“I don’t want to say a specific time (in the 40),” Watkins said. “That is kind of hidden right now, but I will definitely have the fastest time or one of the two or three fastest at the combine.”
Most mock drafts project Watkins as a top 10 selection, and that’s the way the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder envisions himself, he said. Watkins caught 240 passes for 27 touchdowns in three years at Clemson and last offseason tweeted that he ran a 4.27 40 in team testing.
“My draft goal has always been the same, be a top 10 player, go out there and dominate the combine and make sure those guys see my potential and go out there and ace the interviews,” Watkins said.
Watkins is preparing for the draft at Performance Compound along with former South Carolina standouts Vic Hampton, Bruce Ellington and Kelcy Quarles.
“Coming here, I am thinking, ‘I might get faster, I might not,’ ” Watkins said. “In two weeks, I can tell I am 10 times more flexible. I am working on muscles we didn’t work on (in college), different stretches, different workouts.”
Watkins’ speed, though, has never been an issue. The biggest question he will have to answer in Indianapolis is: Does he have a counterpunch to the go route? Watkins says yes, and that anybody who doubts he is more than a speed demon will be surprised.
“They say I can’t run routes, so I definitely have to show them that I am probably one of the best receivers at running routes in the combine,” he said.
Watkins credited Ellington with helping him refine his route running.
“I don’t think a lot of guys are on mine and his level on route running and knowing the fundamentals of break points and things like that,” Watkins said.