Let's pretend for the moment that Steve Smith is going to be here forever. That's all fine and good, but he's alone. Since Moose has gone, he's the only really good receiver here. A champion and a god among his peers. David Gettis, Lafell, Edwards, and none of the others are the answer. Once Steve is gone, the Panthers don't have a true #1 receiver to go to and that will hurt our offense. In turn, it will hurt Cam Newton. Think of all the passes Cam Newton has thrown this last week, almost half of them have been to Steve Smith. And when you think of all the Super Bowl teams of the past, many of them have at least two good receivers. The Patriots had Randy Moss and Wes Welker. When they didn't have Randy Moss, they had Deion Branch. The Steelers had Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward. The Giants had Plaxico Burress and Hakeem Nicks. The Colts had Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. The lists of examples are endless and they prove one important thing: If you want to win a Super Bowl, you've got to have two great receivers to go with an excellent QB.
Fast forward to the 2013 Draft. The Panthers have been building up their team for a while now. Their defensive unit is one of the stoutest in the league thanks to picking up key players in free agency and great early choices in the 2011 and 2012 drafts. Steve Smith is a bit older at 34 years old, but he's still got the talent to gain separation from the other guys on the field. But he's still alone. The Panthers have ignored the WR position year after year while Steve Smith has piled on the receiving yardage. But now, they're finally willing to dedicate a 2nd round pick to a talented receiver in an effort to solve this problem. They realize that Steve Smith cannot solve the passing offense on his own and without a retired Jeremy Shocking and an aging Smitty, it's only going to get worse if they aren't willing to do something about it.
In walks Revshawn's new knight in shining armor, Sammy Watkins.
There are those among you that might not understand my jokes I crack about Jacoby Ford. So I will explain. I am a die-hard Clemson fan. Let me be perfectly clear to you all, there is no greater Clemson fan on Earth than me. Remember that one guy that was caught crying over Clemson's loss and he was a media sensation for a while? He's nothing! I tore my shirt and wore sackcloth and ashes for many moons following Clemson's loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship.
Three years ago, I began the bandwagon for Jacoby Ford to be selected by the Carolina Panthers in the 2010 Draft. My reasons were simple. The entire NFL Scouting agency along with the agencies of all the various NFL Teams....were all on weed. Here you have a future star of a receiver with legit 4.2 speed and great hands, yet the NFL Scouts are docking him for silly stuff such as him "Coming from a program without a history in developing future WR stars in the NFL," and "His 5,9 height." The exact same crap that scouting agencies hit Steve Smith for that dropped him to the 3rd round and led to him becoming a star receiver for the Carolina Panthers.
Thus, Jacoby Ford was automatically the next Steve Smith. It was a freaking draft goldmine.
Imagine my surprise when the Panthers select Brandon Lafell in the 3rd round when Jacoby Ford is still on the board. This is a slap in the face of Clemson fans everywhere. "At least it's a receiver." I supposed. Though I had never heard of the guy nor did I care, he filled a need. But later on in the draft, I thought we needed another receiver. It's the 3rd round after all, receivers taken there are no sure deal. Maybe if Jacoby Ford fell to the 4th round we could get him there.
Then shit hits the fan. The Panthers trade up to the 89th spot in the 3rd round.
"THIS IS IT!!!!" I loudly declare to my friends on CSR.
It was a perfect scenario. The Panthers waited and traded up some of their late round picks in the draft to move up from their 4th round spot to grab my hero Jacoby Ford. They weren't gonna put all their eggs in one basket with Brandon Lafell. At long last, my Panthers weren't taking the heavily hyped receiver coming from a big school! They were picking a player with true talent! True greatness! Our special teams woes are finally solved, they want to draft my hero Jacoby Ford. Steve Smith finally has a worthy protege just like him! Joyous days!
"With the 89th pick in the 2010 Draft the Carolina Panthers select...."
"JACOBY FORD!!!" I loudly yelled to my television.
"...Armanti Edwards!" Roger Goodell said with a confused look on his face.
The entire Clemson nation shouts out their anguish to the heavens. Just what the hell were the Panthers thinking? You pass over a receiver with legit 4.2 speed and great hands over a player WHICH NEVER PLAYED A DOWN AT RECEIVER IN HIS ENTIRE NCAA CAREER!?!?!?! You pass over Ford for a player that played in a crappy conference? For a player that was chosen for no other reason than 'because he was an athlete?'
Honestly? That's what you're going with here? Thank you John Fox, you are officially a jackass.
The outcome of what happened was very predictable. Even hilarious when you think about it. Jacoby Ford would later be taken by the Raiders in the 4th round for no other reason than because he's fast. He'd go on to score multiple kickoff and punt return touchdowns for the Raiders while Edwards played in the same role and let them hit him in the face. Jacoby Ford would move on to score almost 500 receiving yards as a rookie while Armanti Edwards was busy trying to learn how to itch his rear. He should come close to doubling it this year, but Armanti Edwards is still wondering the empty fields of Bank of America stadium, grazing for attention from the fanbase that loves him for himself, despite the fact he has yet to do anything on the field.
I myself was heartbroken for the entire month. The Panthers had missed the obvious talent in their orange backyard of Clemson University. Death valley had been thrown to the dogs in favor of the Mountains and our Panthers would react by going a humiliating 2-14. What great dishonor!
But....for a team that has so disregarded their neighbor in the heart of South Carolina....there is still hope. For here comes the greatest receiver to ever come out of the football-loving state of Florida, the home state of my birth. His name is Sammy Watkins and his is going to be the right arm of the Clemson offense for years to come. He is going to be the beast of the ACC and the fear of defenses everywhere. Just last Saturday, he contributed greatly to Clemson beating the Auburn Tigers and stopping their 17 game winning streak to the tune of 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
But the NCAA is going to shoot him the bird. After all, he's not with one of the great schools with star receivers to come out like Auburn, Florida, or Georgia. So he's going to fall to the early-middle second round after he declares as a Junior in the 2013 class. So today, I am officially starting the Sammy Watkins banwagon, three years in advance. My Panthers will not screw me the way that they did in 2010 with Armanti Edwards. I see talent when I look at it. Sammy Watkins is the real deal!
If the Panthers pick him in 2013, he will not be a bust. He will start and he will be a Pro-Bowler for our team within three years. He can be the Padawan that Steve Smith has wanted forever. He can be the future #1 for our team! We'll start this so early and get this gravy train rolling so early that the Panthers will have no choice but to pick him in 2013!
Sammy Watkins 2013! The team in blue finally get a little orange too! WOOO!