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TC20: 7) A breakout season for Bills' Sammy Watkins on the horizon?

TC20: 7) A breakout season for Bills' Sammy Watkins on the horizon?
Posted at 10:30 AM, Jul 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 10:30:25-04

At the end of the month the Buffalo Bills will reconvene for training camp, in what will be a crucial time for a team that has playoff aspirations in 2016. There are a plethora of questions facing the team as we get closer to the start of camp at St. John Fisher College.

Through the weeks leading up to camp, 7 ABC will examine the 20 most pressing questions the Bills have for the upcoming season.

With the upcoming year, the Buffalo Bills are hoping to open things up offensively a bit more, and that would mean one player in particular takes the giant leap forward many expect he will.

7) A breakout season for Sammy Watkins on the horizon?

In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills controversially sent away their next year's first-round pick in order to have the right to draft Sammy Watkins at fourth overall. All along, he was the apple of the Bills' eye, and they believe he had a chance to become a superstar at the NFL level.

Through the first year-and-a-half, there was a lot of inconsistent production -- sometimes due to injury, sometimes due to game planning, and sometimes due to inconsistent play at the quarterback position. The talent was evident, but for those reasons, Watkins never really broke through the same way that Odell Beckham, Jr. did in his rookie season.

Then, once the Bills got back from London and Watkins returned from injury, the wide receiver gave an example of what he is capable of. Over a nine game stretch, Watkins churned out 49 receptions for 900 yards and seven touchdowns.

If you extrapolate those numbers over a 16-game season, that would equal 87 receptions for 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns -- which in 2015 would have put him tied for 12th in the league in receptions, 3rd in receiving yards, and tied for 6th in touchdowns.

Oh yes, Watkins is certainly on the cusp of greatness. But can he finally get there, and put together that full season of production?

The only thing stopping him is potential injury... that's it.

Not only does Watkins have the size, speed, route running, hands, vision, and jumping ability down pat, now he's quite well-versed in the arena of getting double-teamed by the defense and still churning out production. Everything is there, it just needs to be put together.

Now with a solid starting quarterback returning in Tyrod Taylor -- who has shown that he trusts Watkins to win in double-team scenarios -- and more of an importance placed on opening things up over the middle of the field from a pass-game perspective, Watkins' productions stands to go up if he stays healthy.

Perhaps his offseason foot surgery was a blessing in disguise, and the hope is that all the lingering injuries have now been corrected to the point where Watkins is 100-percent healthy when he returns to training camp. Instead of trying to return too early, the Bills should remain cautious and make sure he's all the way there, even if he's trying to push to return to practice earlier than they want him to.

He has all the opportunity to fulfill the proclamation that the Bills made when they moved up to take him back in 2014, and he could potentially become one of the best receivers in the entire league. I think he has what it takes, it's just a matter of proving it on the field.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

Bills Training Camp 20 #TC20

1) Is Tyrod ready to take the next step?

2) Who steps up in place of Shaq Lawson?

3) Which wide receiver will win the No. 3 job?

4) Do the Bills have the defensive depth?

5) When will Karlos Williams be ready?

6) Will Stephon Gilmore hold out?

7) A breakout season for Sammy Watkins on the horizon?