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Why was Sammy Watkins a bust?


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Yay, more fun off-season topics.
 

I am truly curious from knowledgeable Bills fans as I am not really an Xs & Os guy. Going into the draft, Watkins looked like a sure-fire slam dunk at #3 overall. Although not super tall, he looked massive compared to other WRs. His college tape is unreal. Incredible RAC ability & juking. Great speed for a guy his size. Seemed to turn those little WR screens into huge gains (I never understood why this trait wasn’t utilized more in the NFL?) Was he not properly developed by Buffalo? I don’t think this is true at all as both his best seasons came as a Bill and they were his first 2 so things were looking very promising. Who would’ve thought Tyrod Taylor and Kyle Orton would’ve got more out of Sammy than Mahomes and Lamar Jackson? IMO, one of the Buffalo’s all-time busts and hindsight obviously should’ve went w/ Khalil Mack. That would’ve made too much sense. Buffalo did do a good job of cutting their losses. I always felt like the guy had a sh*tty attitude. People hate on Diggs, but at least he backed it up on the field. Anyways, I gotta get back to working my little job. LMK what u think. 

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Foot injuries suck... he had a monster season when he wasn't injured (that really looked like he was going to maintain and surpass that level year after year), but then rehurt his foot.

 

Feel like I remember it being a situation where he tried playing through it and it made it much worse and impacted his career... I'm not going to judge anyone's mental toughness when you have all these expectations put on you that you are actually meeting and then you get hurt and have to rehab alone and the thing that has driven you every day since you were a kid is suddenly taken from you...I think he does so much better playing on the bills with this coaching staff...mental health didn't seem like a huge priority under Marrone and just how challenging it can be to play at an elite level and still feel like you aren't meeting expectations and then you get hurt and I've heard that in a lot of organizations, when you're injured your basically isolated and it's buffalo in the winter (I like winter weather, but I can't handle to western NY clouds in the winter, especially weeks with no sun and highs in the mid40s and just slush everywhere).

 

Makes me think of James Hardy a bit to be honest.

 

To answer your question though, no I don't think Sammy Watkins was a bust, because I don't think a career derailed by injuries can be considered a bust. Unfortunate for sure, though I do get the mental aspect of things...but like let's pretend Bill Walton doesn't heal from his initial foot injuries and doesn't have those two massive seasons before he reinjured his foot...would he be a bust? Was Greg Oden a bust?

 

Maybe, Greg Oden had early career foot injuries as well, but it spun him out and he developed addictions and I'm not judging him, I can't imagine the pressure and to an extent the shame, but I don't know I don't think injuries can cause someone to be a bust (unless the people drafting the player know there are injury red flags, but even then it's a risk reward thing and I get saying a player who is injured needs to attack rehab, but at the same time, like the case I believe for Sammy Watkins and reading just now how Walton held out an entire season because he felt Portland was treating injuries in an unethical way, which makes me think he pushed too hard to come back too soon...sometimes over rehabbing an injury is a bad thing).

 

Tldr, no i do not believe Sammy Watkins was a bust and until Steff Diggs joined the team I can't remember seeing another receiver with the suddenness and explosiveness and footwork to get open on their first step like those two did

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Well he caught for 1,000 his first two season with a very limited passing attack. I think the Bills broke him. Maybe it was the bust status and it got to his head. Injuries got to him. 

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He admitted that he would get wasted every night while in Buffalo.  The guy had immense talent and was just threw it away.  He crapped on the Bills and the fans by turning in minimal effort and not taking care of his body.

 

https://sports.yahoo.com/wild-sammy-watkins-story-includes-how-constant-drinking-and-smoking-led-to-his-buffalo-problems-155348976.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAACuEs5VsXP7NRcfU5CaaxJMhk10hGWfFADrVox6agPgUbjQZ6y_KPpBskKXAZGz7TwzC6S7rW6SJ42oX6_iPBYogAowOA-oyyTIW8C38DYRb9yn75ofQ3Ssx8C_r1Tde3dV-Qn6IPb6WiPKIksYVJr78H4uWNEBVJCikYM4g6_o7

Edited by HereComesTheReignAgain
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The NFL is full of physical freaks. It is the mental side and your drive to be great that truly make the difference long term. Watkins had all the physical tools, but he was a bit of a head case and he got injured a lot early in his career. I don't think he had the mental fortitude to overcome all the adversity.

 

Other teams tried to use him too, and he had his moments, but none of them could get him to realize his upside either.

Edited by MJS
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3 minutes ago, MJS said:

The NFL is full of physical freaks. It is the mental side and your drive to be great that truly make the difference long term. Watkins had all the physical tools, but he was a bit of a head case and he got injured a lot early in his career. I don't think he had the mental fortitude to overcome all the adversity.

 

Other teams tried to use him too, and he had his moments, but none of them could get him to realize his upside either.


The mental component combined with the physical abilities is why LeBron continues to dominate the NBA 20 years later.  In my 20s, I’d play pickup ball against very physically gifted guys all the time, but they never played at a higher level than D3 because they were also dumb as rocks.

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16 minutes ago, MJS said:

The NFL is full of physical freaks. It is the mental side and your drive to be great that truly make the difference long term. Watkins had all the physical tools, but he was a bit of a head case and he got injured a lot early in his career. I don't think he had the mental fortitude to overcome all the adversity.

 

Other teams tried to use him too, and he had his moments, but none of them could get him to realize his upside either.

 

That drive though can be such a negative thing when you need to give yourself patience from being injured...vulnerability, shame, disappointment, jealousy, etc...boys and men really don't have and aren't given the words to express these emotions and that leads to a huge epidemic of loneliness and isolation and many turn to substance abuse...I would guess a decent % on this board are dealing with similar things, but just amplify the pressure and expectations of being an absolutely elite top 0.1% athlete and then add on top of that being drafted in the top 5.

 

I'd argue it's not typically a lack of mental toughness that brings people in sports down, but a lack of mental vulnerability...I'd probably also argue that being mentally tough means being able to be mentally vulnerable and mental toughness is based on being able to use all the tools in the emotional toolbox and not just the hammers that are happy or mad.

 

Basically you don't get to the nfl unless you are insanely mentally tough...like could people be more tough sure, but I would expect any player in high level college or professional sports has pushed their body mentally more than the vast majority of people on the planet...the problem is when you fall, sometimes you need to sit there for a moment and feel those feelings and talk about them to get past them, before you get up and try and deal with them by rehabing to hard and ruining a career.

 

I agree with a lot of what you wrote... I'm just taking mostly about the term mental fortitude and how that feels like you're saying he wasn't mentally tough enough, but I think maybe a better is mentally resilient and sometimes that means truly allowing oneself to experience and process all emotions.

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32 minutes ago, mushypeaches said:

Let us vow to never ever again trade a future 1st round pick just to move up and draft a WR

Half this message board would have traded 2024 1st, 2024 2nd, 2025 1st, 2025 2nd just to move up a few spots to take Brian Thomas Jr. a few months ago.

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YES... but here are the actual reasons why:

 

Injuries: when he was healthy he was a very productive player regardless of effort. But the injuries started and by 2016 he was off the field a lot which really hampered the offenses ability to operate at full potential. It gets forgotten a lot as so much time has gone by but after 2015 he was viewed as a pretty good pick and the combo of him Tyrod & McCoy was usually ranked top 10 for QB-RB-WR. In the top 100 players in the NFL for 2015 he was even ranked 96th by his fellow players so he was pretty good at the time. The problem is 2015 was his best season ever and he never got close to that again.

 

Effort: He himself has said that he wasted a lot of time in Buffalo where his effort never matched what he could do and then when mentally he got it together his body was failing him. The guy had a lot of mental things he had to get through that clearly hampered him and any development he had. But you could also see he cared more about being a star then working to be one as the non TD catch and run vs NYJ showed in 2014.

 

2014 Draft: This is not Watkins fault but Buffalo traded two 1sts to move up and get him to be a #1 WR. HAD they stayed in place they would've had the Bills could have had ODB, Bradin Cooks, Aaron Donald, Ryan Shazier etc... the amount of talent sitting there that became pro bowl caliber player whether WR or another spot haunted the Bills within a year and half after the draft along with the fact they gave up another 1st for him. As the rest of that star studded class elevated and became big things, he spun his tires only shinning a brighter light on the miss the Bills made which also added more pressure onto him.

 

Buffalo Themselves: The Bills went through a lot of change in so many areas during his time in Buffalo. He had three head coaches Doug, Rex, & McD before trade, two GMs, three offensive coordinators. Pretty much everything from 2014 until McD was a circus around that place as winning the headlines became as much a priority as winning. I will say Roman was not a bad OC for him and once he got Tyrod he had a relatively stable QB situation for his last two years. But the Bills made the trade with the idea of Sammy pushing the team to the next level and to help EJ. Instead EJ flunked out, his contributions were just ok, and then the entire coaching staff left. Certain guys I think develop regardless of good or bad coaching, Aaron Donald was on some atrocious Rams teams with Jeff Fisher and still became the dude. IF Sammy was to hit any where close to his potential you needed a stable coach/gm/franchise that could handle someone with his talent but issues/need to focus in on that talent. 

 

 

Sammy to me is a bust but more in the sense of what could have been. Too many things many self inflicted, some not came together that stopped any real chance of him elevating to the potential he had. I think my reasons fairly illustrate it all but feel free to disagree or converse

Edited by corta765
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It’s not his fault the bills traded up for him. I thought when healthy he was an impressive player. The injuries played a part. The effort and commitment was the bigger issue. Instead of working on his craft to be one of the best best he wasted himself on getting wasted.

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1 hour ago, ChronicAndKnuckles said:

Yay, more fun off-season topics.
 

I am truly curious from knowledgeable Bills fans as I am not really an Xs & Os guy. Going into the draft, Watkins looked like a sure-fire slam dunk at #3 overall. Although not super tall, he looked massive compared to other WRs. His college tape is unreal. Incredible RAC ability & juking. Great speed for a guy his size. Seemed to turn those little WR screens into huge gains (I never understood why this trait wasn’t utilized more in the NFL?) Was he not properly developed by Buffalo? I don’t think this is true at all as both his best seasons came as a Bill and they were his first 2 so things were looking very promising. Who would’ve thought Tyrod Taylor and Kyle Orton would’ve got more out of Sammy than Mahomes and Lamar Jackson? IMO, one of the Buffalo’s all-time busts and hindsight obviously should’ve went w/ Khalil Mack. That would’ve made too much sense. Buffalo did do a good job of cutting their losses. I always felt like the guy had a sh*tty attitude. People hate on Diggs, but at least he backed it up on the field. Anyways, I gotta get back to working my little job. LMK what u think. 

 

Injuries and attitude.

Rookie year OK - near 1000 yds

2nd year good - >1000 yds despite missing games with a calf injury, but the Head Case started to show up with voicing frustration over targets publicly (while missing time injured) and lashing out at fans " "get a life and go to work" and "continue working y'all little jobs for the rest of y'all lives"
3rd year - broke bone in foot, went AMA in his rehab, showed up to camp severely hampered, played 2 games and was IR'd until Game 12.  He had a 'tude as well.

At this point Bills declined his option and shipped him to LA for a 2nd round pick.

 

In 2017 LA, he found a run-centered offense powered by Todd Gurley and he found himself #3 on the depth chart beyind Kupp and Woods, and whether it was that he never got back to his original form from the foot injury or just lost the drive to excel, that was pretty much it.  LA didn't get the ROI they'd hoped for that 2nd round pick, so they let him walk and he signed with KC 3 yr $48M, where he was #3 behind Kelce and Hill.  KC got a couple of decent years out of him as their #3 but I don't think they got their $48M.

I'm not sure I'd call him a bust - to me a bust is a guy who just can't play in the NFL, and Watkins could play in the NFL.  But, he certainly didn't give the Bills the ROI for trading up in the 1st round to draft him.

 

 

16 minutes ago, ryguy101 said:

 

Let's to to the original on this, not the blog who quoted it

 

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2889029-what-sammy-watkins-believes

Like I said, "injuries and attitude"

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