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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: WR Austin Watkins, UAB

UAB receiver Sammy Watkins has been a solid playmaker for the Kansas City Chiefs. Can his relative, receiver Austin Watkins, be the same?

WR AUSTIN WATKINS

Height: 6'3"
Weight: 207 lbs.
Class: Senior (Red Shirt)
School: UAB


Watkins red-shirted after the first four games of his junior year at UAB. Put together impressive stats for the Blazers in 2019; had 57 catches for 1092 yards and six touchdowns while being a “big play threat,” averaging 19.2 yards per catch.

Played seven 2020 games and had 33 catches for 466 yards and three touchdowns. He earned First Team All-Conference USA in 2020 and a second-team nod in 2019. As a freshman at Dodge City CC, Watkins caught 33 passes for 376 yards and one touchdown before transferring to UAB.

Notables

JUCO transfer from Dodge City Community College to the UAB Blazers. He is the cousin of Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

Traits

He has solid height with excellent weight and a thick running back-like lower half. Solid overall athlete; he is not a burner or someone who will consistently create separation problems for defensive backs. He has a solid release off the line of scrimmage; feet can be a bit more active, and I’d like to see a bit more explosiveness off the line.

Good play strength and excellent counter placement hinder defensive backs from jamming Watkins, who has a built-in physique. Deceptive up his route stem and uses very good subtle head and shoulder movements to keep defensive backs guessing.

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He executes a good lean and stick on posts/corners and does a good job varying his tempo up the stem while flashing the ability to sink and explode vertically (double moves). Showed the ability to run detailed seven routes where he sold the breaks well with subtleties, albeit he can run a bit high at times.


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He doesn’t sink in and out of breaks horizontally as well; he relies on subtle push-offs to create separation on tight breaking routes. He has shown collegiate deep ability but doesn’t have the exceptional deep speed, so he’ll have to rely on his ability to win contested-catch situations. He is very strong at the catch point; he wrestles the ball away from defensive backs and shields the catch point well.

Good overall hands that are very strong. He does a nice job high pointing the ball over defenders and using his exceptional strength to win. Body control is good in the air and near the sidelines, and he does a solid job concentrating and watching the ball into his hands - he can track the football. He is not the easiest receiver to tackle. 

His thickness and overall play strength make tackling him a problem for some defensive backs. He can lower his shoulder and punish smaller defenders and has some shiftiness in space.

Overall, Watkins was a big-play threat in college, but there will be athletic concerns if that can be maintained in the NFL. He is more of a contested-catch winner who uses subtleties well to win up his stem. 

While he uses these subtleties well, he could still stand to be a more equipped route runner. He isn’t the most fluid on tight horizontal breaking routes. This is a deep wide receiver class, and Watkins could be a nice addition on day three, but he may struggle to create separation in the NFL consistently. 


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