By Ed McGranahan.
By Ed McGranahan
Moms are vastly more pragmatic than their sons so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when Sammy Watkins’ talked before the season about her son’s future she was okay with the notion he postpone his pro career a year and finish his degree.
She was also fine with him turning pro a year early, and it may be the wiser choice. Watkins has maximized his investment at Clemson and seems to have a clear understanding of the difference between the business and the game. During his freshman year there were scouts saying he was ready, so imagine what two more seasons have done for him.
Based on projections by some of the more respected people in the business, Watkins may only harm his value by remaining at Clemson. Several mock drafts list him as the top receiver and the fifth or sixth pick in 2014, which would be the highest from Clemson since Banks McFadden went No. 4 in 1940 and defensive end Gaines Adams with the same number in 2007.
If he slips to mid-round it would be expensive but even his coaches seem to think it’s worth the gamble. We’re still taking about potentially life-changing money. Still, there are no guarantees, and we saw what waiting did for C.J. Spiller.
For Vic Beasley and Martavis Bryant, the odds of instant success are longer. They could help themselves by remaining at Clemson another season and should.
Last year Beasley was still searching for a home in the Clemson lineup. A precociously gifted athlete, he was primarily a running back at Adairsville High in North Georgia, and when he arrived at Clemson the first inclination was to make him a tight end. Later he worked as an outside linebacker. Dabo Swinney said earlier this year he had to sell Beasley on defensive end.
His reticence seems to have waned with the switch to end, which provides Beasley with the surest route to the NFL, and based on many of those same mock drafts, he could also be as a first-round pick.
In this case it may be a little premature. While his athleticism and quickness will be seductive to scouts his size, savvy and innocence may work against him. At 6-2 and 235 pounds he’s small for an end and modestly sized for an outside linebacker, though with his wingspan he plays “longer.” He has made substantial progress as a run defender this season.
Beasley sounded as if he had been seduced by the postseason honors and the mock drafts, but as we have seen the past couple of years the league can be unpredictable. For what’s invested, a first-round pick must be near ready to play. One more year under Brent Venables and Marion Hobby and another 10-15 pounds of muscle with Joey Batson’s program may turn Beasley into the next Derrick Thomas and one of the best college players in the nation next season.
The pro game is quicker and, for a less sophisticated young man, he may have received too much attention too quickly, and before he knows for sure the decision may be out of his hands.
Bryant could cost himself millions of dollars by leaving early. Saying he was willing to be drafted as a third-round pick, Bryant does not have a clue what’s at stake.
In less than a year, he has grown into a relatively dependable person, but as a receiver he has vastly underachieved. Physically as gifted as Watkins and Hopkins, more so in some respects because of his height and long gait, Bryant has not been noted as a student of the game. Bryant undervalues himself. He seems to believe that it’s only a matter of being drafted and signing a contract to be considered a success. Millions versus hundreds of thousands are vague concepts beyond his understanding.
One more year in Chad Morris’ offense could be worth millions if Bryant remained focused, an All-American candidate potentially comparable to Randy Moss.
If he received an invitation to the NFL Combine, and at this point that’s not guaranteed, Bryant might become disenchanted. Deadline for submitting his name to the draft is Jan. 15. The combine isn’t for another month.
It’s not worth the gamble.