CLEMSON - Even the stars get starstruck.
It's hard to unseat Sammy Watkins on Clemson's campus as the main attraction, the larger-than-life wide receiver. However, Steve Smith's trump card is five Pro Bowl appearances, and the Carolina Panthers' mainstay was on hand working for ESPN's Pro Timing Day coverage at Clemson.
"I didn't bug him too much - I didn't want to pressure him," Watkins said. "But I asked him about transitioning to the NFL, and what the best position to go in for, and what to look for."
It's a rare moment where the presumed top receiver on 2014 NFL Draft boards turned shy. Not that Watkins speaks too loudly; he let his on-field performance do the talking.
"I think I proved my point, that I can run my routes, be quick and fast, agile and use my hands on every catch," Watkins said. "So now for me, it's relax, still work out and eat right, but it's time to calm down and evaluate myself and work on the things that I didn't do today. I can critique and improve a lot of things, and get ready for the draft."
Smith, three-time Pro Bowl WR Keyshawn Johnson (also working for ESPN) and more than 60 scouts, coaches and general managers found themselves wowed by Watkins' electric movement and sticky hands. One of the scouts told WalterFootball.com's Tony Pauline that Watkins produced "the best Pro Day workout (he's) ever seen from a receiver."
"Sammy looked outstanding. You see the explosion, in and out of the routes. You see how smooth he looks on the sail cut, and the in cut," quarterback Tajh Boyd said. "To have a guy like that has been a blessing for me, a blessing for this university, and a blessing for whatever team he goes to."
Watkins, holder of 23 Clemson receiving records and the only Tiger to be named a first-team All-American three consecutive years, is doing what he can to block out the hype. He's not interested in establishing simple goals like being the top receiver taken, even though he's considered a top-three overall prospect.
"I can't control who's 1, 2, and 3. I just come out here and give my best, and show the guys that I am one of the top receivers," Watkins said. "I love to compete, I'm not shy about running routes. Not saying they'll be perfect, but I can run just about any route."
All the major publications producing mock drafts have Watkins lasting no longer than the Detroit Lions' selection at No. 10. He's in the mix along with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson as the best overall options, and three teams picking in the top four are eyeing the three marquee available quarterbacks.
"Yeah, I feel like Sammy feels like he's a top-five guy, and he's one of the best playmakers in this draft," said Watkins' agent, Tory Dandy from Relativity Sports. "So I definitely feel like he should have high expectations."