No. 4: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Previous ranking: No. 2
Making the case for Watkins: Watkins was arguably the best wide receiver in the nation this fall, finishing fifth nationally in receiving yards (1,464), 11th in receptions (101) and tied for 10th in touchdowns (12). Those numbers helped him to finish second in the ACC in receptions and touchdowns and first in receiving yards. He also ascended to first on the school single-season list of receptions and receiving yards. Watkins added 14 kickoff returns for 293 total yards, allowing him to finish third in the ACC in all-purpose yards per game with 136.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Watkins declared early for the NFL draft, where he is expected to be the first receiver taken. He certainly left a lasting impression during his collegiate finale, a 40-35 Discover Orange Bowl win over Ohio State in which he set school records for receptions (16) and receiving yards (227) while reaching the end zone twice. He earned the game's most outstanding player honor.
The Fort Myers, Fla., native was a unanimous first-team All-ACC selection by the league's coaches, and his 63 votes from members of the media were the most among first-team members on the media team. The AFCA also named Watkins a first-team All-American, and he was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. His 240 career receptions and 3,3931 receiving yards are good for second and third best in conference history. His 27 touchdown catches are tied for eighth best in an ACC career, and his 15 career 100-yard receiving games are tied for second best. Watkins also tallied 5,129 career all-purpose yards, second most in school history and ninth most in league history. Yes, he will be missed in Death Valley, where he made as big of an impact as anyone despite sticking around for just three seasons. Still, it would surprise no one if he does the same in what certainly is a promising NFL future.