- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
He was the top-rated player on their draft board and widely considered the top receiver available in the draft. The Bills say that he can contribute right away and if all goes according to plan, he'll soon be in a category with A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
"Talent wise, he's on par with them," player personnel director Jim Monos said at the team's pre-draft luncheon last month.
That sets the bar high for Watkins, even in his rookie season. As a rookie -- playing in 15 games -- Green caught 65 passes for 1,057 yards and 7 touchdowns. In 13 games his rookie season, Jones had 54 catches for 959 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Falcons moved up 21 spots -- from 27th to sixth -- to select Jones. They were coming off a 13-3 season that ended in a disappointing Divisional playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. In Jones' first season, Atlanta slipped to 10-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs before rebounding and reaching the NFC title game in 2012.
Here is deal that the Falcons swung with the Cleveland Browns (sound familiar?) for Jones back in 2011:
2011 first-round selection (No. 6; used to select Julio Jones)
2011 first-round selection (No. 27; later traded to Kansas City; Browns moved up to No. 21 to select Phil Taylor)
2011 second-round selection (No. 59; used to select Greg Little)
2011 fourth-round selection (No. 124; used to select Owen Marecic)
2012 first-round selection (No. 22; used to select Brandon Weeden)
2012 fourth-round selection (No. 118; later traded to Minnesota)
Meanwhile, the Bills moved up five spots on Thursday night to select Watkins:
2014 first-round selection (No. 4; used to select Sammy Watkins)
2014 first-round selection (No. 9; later traded to Minnesota; Browns moved up to No. 8 to select Justin Gilbert)
2015 first-round selection
2015 fourth-round selection
Essentially, the Falcons moved up 16 more spots in the first round than the Bills did, with the difference in the trades being Atlanta's current-year second- and fourth-round selections included in the deal.
Time will tell if Watkins measures up to Jones -- and if the Browns can do better than Weeden with their extra first-round pick next season.