Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2) runs with the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes during their game in the 2014 Orange Bowl college football game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Sammy Watkins vs Mike Evans Debate

Oct 19, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Mike Evans (13) is unable to make the catch as Auburn Tigers defensive back Jermaine Whitehead (behind) defends the play during the second half at Kyle Field. Tigers won 45-41. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

It is a common idea among Rams fans and experts around the league, that the St. Louis Rams need a wide receiver and that they should add an explosive one in the draft. That could certainly be the case even though the Rams did just draft a receiver in the top ten last season in Tavon Austin.

Even with the addition of Austin in last year’s draft, the Rams are still missing that dominant receiver on the perimeter, the one receiver that defenses are forced to respect. Chris Givens was supposed to be that guy, but after his decline in 2013, the Rams can’t and would be foolish to put all their eggs in that basket. They need to draft a guy that will take some of the pressure off of Givens and that guy certainly won’t be Austin Pettis or Brian Quick.

Speaking of Quick, he’s another name that gets brought up as the supposed to be number one receiver. However, it seems like every time this guy gets a chance to make a play, somehow, someway, something goes wrong. Either he runs the wrong route, drops the pass, or the ball get tips at the line of scrimmage and ends up being a “pic-six”.

The Rams have spent quite a few draft picks on receivers in recent years, and unfortunately they just haven’t seemed to pan out. Thats why drafting one of the elite receivers in this year’s draft becomes that much more important.

The two names that get brought up the most as receivers that the Rams should draft are Sammy Watkins, the wide receiver from Clemson, and Mike Evans, the wide receiver from Texas A&M.

Just like everything, fans are going to take sides. There are the Rams fans that are on the Mike Evans bandwagon and there are fans, such as myself, that are on the Sammy Watkins bandwagon. Bottom line is that either of these players would be a great addition to the Rams offense and you can make a case of which player would be a better fit, but in reality the Rams could not go wrong with either receiver. However that isn’t going to stop us from discussing the hot topic.

To start, we will begin with the number one receiver in the draft, Sammy Watkins. The Rams have missed out on some of the number one receivers in drafts over the years for many reasons, mostly just bad luck.

However, in this years draft, the Rams finally have a chance to take the number one receiver that everyone is saying is a difference maker and is the best receiver that they have seen in years. And it just so happens that the Rams sit at a perfect position to take him sitting at the number two overall pick thanks to the Washington Redskins.

Watkins is a break away kind of receiver that uses his break away to make plays. He has the ability to catch the ball underneath and take it to the house, but he isn’t limited to that as he  can also blow the top off of defenses and beat you deep.

This is great for the Rams offense because the Rams don’t throw the ball deep down the field often anyway. Schottenheimer likes to keep things close to the line of scrimmage. According to an article on rotoworld done a while back, just less than 90% of Watkins’ receptions came less than 20 yards within the line of scrimmage, the most of any of the top five receivers other than Marquise Lee.

Watkins can make an average quarterback look good and consistently turns two-yard gains into 15-yard gains. As mentioned earlier he possesses big-time playmaking ability and is very effective in the open field on bubble screens and is great at gaining yards after the catch which makes him a threat every time he touches the ball, something that the Rams need on offense. Unlike Evans, Watkins has good burst out of his cuts which gives him the ability to separate from defenders.

Last season Watkins had 101 receptions that went for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. That included a record breaking performance against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl. This guy is a play maker and a difference maker, someone that actually makes an impact.

Watkins is the number one receiver that the Rams have been searching far and wide for, ever since Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce left. Watkins would bring respect back to the wide receiver position in St. Louis. The Rams may end up regretting not drafting Watkins if they pass on him at number two and miss out on him by trading back.

Now we will move on to Mike Evans. There is no doubt that this is the receiver that the Rams wanted when they drafted Brian Quick two seasons ago. Evans is a physical receiver that uses his size to gain position and beat defenders. He has the ability to beat you on the inside, but also has some speed and can beat you over the top.

The Rams are also becoming a hard nosed, run the football first kind of team, and Evans has the size to be a good run blocker. He is also a great threat in the red zone and has the ability to go up and get 50-50 ball on the fade.

The downsides of Evans are simply that his route running is raw and that he didn’t run a full route tree, but neither did Watkins. The thing that really jumps out at me with Evans is that he is a hot head and can lose control of his emotions.

In the Chick-Fil-A Bowl Evans lost control of his emotions and was basically a non-factor until Manziel got in his face and lead the Aggies to an amazing second half comeback. Evans reminds me of Dez Bryant in this aspect, its not necessarily a bad thing as it shows that he cares, but it can affect his game negatively.

Another thing that is concerning is that he doesn’t create much separation. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford isn’t one that is going to throw it up and let his receiver make the play. Bradford would much rather throw it to the recover that is open. Manziel was a big risk taker and allowed Evans to make those plays, and Im just not sure Bradford would do the same.

Evans may have also benefited some from the athleticism of Johnny Manizel, but on a positive note he still made plays game in and game out in the tough SEC. Evans had 69 receptions for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Some of his better games came against stellar defenses such as Alabama and Auburn in which he had 279 and 287 yards respectively in those games.

If the Rams pass on Sammy Watkins at number two or miss out on him by trading back, Mike Evans would be a nice second option. Both of these receivers have the ability to be a team’s number one guy, but in the end it will all come down to which guy Les Snead and Jeff Fisher like better.

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  • Henry Owen

    I’d have Evans out of those two but I’d rather not take a WR in the first few rounds. FS and O-line are bigger needs which can be filled in the first round. Then take a DT in the second, along with maybe a CB.

    • ricdram

      If we go with your pics Henry the existing receiving corps. MUST STEP UP.I think they can.Tavon & Baily I believe in, its Quick & Givens that I’m on the fence about. I think we can let Austin Pettis go/draft a WR in the 3rd.

      • Henry Owen

        I think that Quick or Givens (probably Givens) can step up with 2 years’ experience under their belts. I agree with letting Pettis go and maybe drafting Norwood from Alabama in the mid to late rounds.

        • Blaine Grisak

          How much faith can you really put in Givens though after last season? And can you really expect Quick to suddenly become a superstar? and I really don’t think the Rams need to take O-line early after re-signing Saffold. The Rams need guards and depth at tackle, you don’t take depth at number two overall. They can take Su’a Filo or Yankey in the second round to fill the guard spot that would give the Rams Long, Yankey/Su’a Filo, Wells, Saffold, Barksdale

          • Henry Owen

            I can put some faith in Givens. I thought he started off the season fine with Bradford at QB but the spread offense we were running didn’t use as many play action plays, which is where Givens excelled in 2012 on deep routes. Clemens is nowhere near as good as Bradford which is why none of the WRs really seemed to play well in the 2nd half of the season. Also I think that taking Su’a Filo would be a decent pick because we don’t know if Long is going to be ready for week one or even as good as last season coming off a torn ACL, and depth is never a bad thing to have on our often-injured O-line.

          • http://www.cnsqonline.com cesarnoel

            If the Rams will be running the ball more than pass, then it is expected that there will be no superstar wide receiver. Among the crop of receivers, I am expecting Stedman Bailey to be the one to pickup the slack if encase Quick or Given doesn’t pan out because they drafted him for his sticky hands. Snead has been preaching about how the need for the current receivers to improve and gain more experience but he didn’t close the doors in possibility of drafting if there’s a very good one available.

  • Gary Stewart

    blaine!! you hit on a point when you said you were worried sam will only throw to guys that are open the reason i like evans is he will win the battles and after ota and mini camp bradford may find he finally has a guy he can trust on the 50-50 balls in the past his wr would lose and not make the catch or worse let the db get an int. the fade routes to a 6-5 guy with long arms and a run blocking mentality makes more sense to me, as well as the red zone threat he poses. watkins is a reach at 2 and evans is a reach at say 6 but if we trade down to 6 pick up an extra pick or two then the reach to 6 for evans is not bad at all and if we sign britt we could really be good with or without either guy

  • http://www.cnsqonline.com cesarnoel

    It’s still a mystery on what would the Rams do in the 1st round. Of the two Sammy Watkins is rated by Tony Softli as a blue player (a sure fire starter and potentially elite).