Clemson's Top Prospect: Tajh Boyd Or Sammy Watkins?
By Matt LaPan
A popular children's rhyme goes, "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Catch a tiger by the toe." However hard it might be to catch a real tiger, it is likely easier than catching a pair of Clemson Tigers: Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.
Boyd is a redshirt senior quarterback for the Tigers and possesses one of the most impressive sets of physical tools in college football. His teammate, Watkins, is a junior wide receiver who has been considered by some to be the best pure athlete in college football.
Both Boyd and Watkins are considered to be among the top prospects in the 2014 NFL draft class at their respective positions. But which is the better NFL prospect? Both possess ideal size, speed and toughness to excel at their positions at the next level, so let's evaluate each to see which one should go higher next May. And good luck catching either of these Tigers.
6-foot-1, 225 pounds
2012 season: 3,896 yards, 36 TD, 13 INT, 67.2%
Boyd has emerged as one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks over the past two seasons. Boyd has averaged 3,862 yards passing, 366 yards rushing and 42 touchdowns per season while leading the Clemson Tigers to 20 wins.
Boyd may be known as a dual-threat quarterback but, much like Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, he is a polished passer who can make almost any throw on the field. Boyd has a very strong arm and has improved his completion percentage from 52.4% in limited action in 2010 to 67.2% in 2012. Not only can Boyd make his throws from the pocket, but he excels throwing on the run.
Boyd also possesses the intangibles that evaluators look for in a quarterback. He is both the vocal and emotional leader of the Tigers on the field. The biggest intangible that Boyd possesses, though, is toughness. Boyd is never one to shy away from contact while running the ball and steps into throws even when under duress. It is also one of his biggest detriments. Boyd fights for extra yards too often, which leaves him open for too many big hits.
Boyd does have some aspects of his game that he must improve if he wants to make a seamless transition into the NFL, however. He often struggles to read blitzes.
2012 season: 57 rec., 708 yds., 12.4 ypc, 19.8 yards per kickoff return
During the 2011 season, Watkins broke out as one of the most dynamic playmakers in the entire country. His combination of size, speed and agility wowed evaluators and opposing teams alike during his freshman campaign.
His sophomore year, however, was not as kind to Watkins. After running into off-field problems, Watkins appeared to fall out of the spotlight amidst team suspensions and opponents gameplanning for him.
Watkins hopes 2013 will be different. The true junior still has his size and speed and will look to become a factor yet again. Watkins is a true threat from anywhere on the field, making plays in the passing, run and return games. Watkins runs good routes and is great at finding open space and exploiting the defense after the catch.
The key for Watkins will be if he can return to his 2011 form. If he does, Watkins could find himself near the top of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The best Clemson draft prospect is . . .
Watkins. It's a tough call as both young men are top-tier talent, but Watkins' upside has him edging out Boyd. Often, players with elite speed and agility are gimmick play guys who are not on the field for every snap, but that's not Watkins. He is a complete receiver, a strong runner and a good return man. With a good season, Watkins could find himself as a top-10 pick.