Packers’ Sammy Watkins Catches Huge Praise From NFL Trainer

Watkins Packers No. 1

Getty Sammy Watkins #14 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates against the Houston Texans during the third quarter in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 12, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri.

There has been some enduring skepticism about Sammy Watkins and whether he will be able to reinvigorate his NFL career in 2022 with the Green Bay Packers, but one of the men working closest with him this offseason believes the 29-year-old receiver is “going to kill it” with the green and gold.

Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed recently wrote an article about seven wide receivers who are primed for bigger roles in 2022 and listed Watkins as the final name on his list after he signed a one-year contract with the Packers this offseason.

While on paper, Watkins is a sensible choice as a former No. 4 overall pick who has now joined forces with a four-time MVP quarterback, Kyed was given additional motivation to pick Watkins after one of the trainers he was interviewing about another receiver — Buffalo’s Gabriel Davis — brought up the Packers’ new veteran receiver unprompted and made some bold claims about what he expects from him in Green Bay.

Here’s what Davis and Watkins’ trainer, Bert Whigham, told PFF about him:

That guy is going to be good for the Packers. He started working with us like seven weeks ago, and he said he wanted to be ‘college Sammy.’ Sammy is going to have a big year. He told me, ‘I want to be Clemson Sammy Watkins.’ And I was like, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ He’s just up there squatting 405 for eight right now like it’s nothing. He started around 218, and he’s at 225 right now, too. He’s going to go be a No. 1 in Green Bay.

Sammy’s going to kill it. I have no doubt. He hasn’t trained like this since college. He’ll say that. ‘I haven’t worked like this since college.’ We’re spending two-and-a-half, three hours on the field in this heat every day. And that sounds crazy, but that’s what your body has to go through so when you get to camp, it’s easy. And that’s been the knock on him. He gets hurt. Well, he hasn’t pushed his body in the offseason, and he’ll admit that.

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‘Clemson Sammy Watkins’ Was an Absolute Stud

Watkins hasn’t delivered the pro career that many expected for him when the Bills moved up five spots in the 2014 NFL draft and took him at No. 4 overall, but there were clear reasons why the majority of scouts, insiders and mock drafts believed he was the most talented receiver in the class that year.

Watkins caught 240 passes for an average of 14.1 yards per receptions during his three seasons at Clemson and finished with a combined 27 receiving touchdowns, tying DeAndre Hopkins for the most in program history. To this day, he remains one of the most prolific pass-catchers to ever play for the Tigers with standing program records for most career receiving yards (3,391), most single-season receiving yards (1,464), most single-season receptions (101) and most single-game receptions (16).

Watkins also holds the Nos. 1 and 2 spots in the record books for most single-game receiving yards, delivering a 202-yard game as a sophomore in 2012 before topping himself with a 227-yard performance against Ohio State in the 2013 Orange Bowl. That game, in addition to being Watkins’ last as a Tiger, was also inarguably his finest with him taking over as Tajh Boyd’s Mr. Reliable and flexing superstar-caliber skills for every NFL scout in the world.

If Watkins manages to recapture even half of that magic during his time with the Packers, Aaron Rodgers could have his new No. 1 receiver.


How Quickly Will Watkins Rise With Packers?

Watkins is certainly in the right environment to attempt his NFL resurgence after the Packers lost Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown from their receiving room this offseason. But how far will he set himself apart when Green Bay opens training camp at the end of the month?

Right now, Allen Lazard is the presumed No. 1 receiver for the Packers heading into the 2022 season. He has spent four years developing a connection with Rodgers and is coming off a season in which he caught a career-high eight touchdowns for the team, making the 26-year-old a perfect candidate to step in as their new top producer. Rodgers can also lean on friend and veteran Randall Cobb in the slot as someone who is familiar with his tendencies and the system. If Watkins remains healthy, he could easily be the third starter alongside them, but being the top guy will require him to step up beyond what he’s done in recent years.

There is also a matter of the younger competition trying to break into the NFL behind Watkins. The Packers added second-rounder Christian Watson, fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs and seventh-rounder Samori Toure in the 2022 NFL draft and still have second-year slot receiver Amari Rodgers looking to bounce back from a rough rookie season. Chances are good all four will make the team’s active roster, and if any of them show signs of being NFL-ready, it could cut into Watkins’ reps and production.

For now at least, the ball is in Watkins’ court.

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