Barring a trade, it remains highly unlikely that the Detroit Lions will even have a shot at drafting Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. That hasn't stopped Watkins from talking about potentially joining the Lions, though, and it also hasn't stopped the Lions from talking up Watkins as a potential choice.
At the NFL owners meetings this week, the Lions actually confirmed that they dined with Watkins and his family around the time of Clemson's pro day. What's more, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Caldwell both had very positive things to say about Watkins. From MLive:
"He's an outstanding player," Mayhew said. "Obviously, he's got the speed, he's got the quickness, he's got the playmaking ability. Another guy you can just get the ball in his hands and he can make something happen.
"And the big games that he played, he had some of his best performances. He's a clutch guy, he's a clutch performer."
Per Dave Birkett, Caldwell said this about Watkins: "There's not much to dislike about that young man." Caldwell also talked up the idea of meeting a player's parents since you get a chance to see how they interact. It's merely another piece of the scouting puzzle, but based on his comments, Caldwell must have come away very impressed by Watkins.
The fact that the Lions are talking this openly about Watkins almost makes it seem even more unlikely that they will actually get a chance to pick him. Usually they are extremely secretive about players they could end up drafting, but it seems like they're not even trying to hide their feelings on Watkins. Perhaps that's because they know it would take a trade to even have a shot at drafting him, but Mayhew was also pretty open about his thoughts on that. Once again, from MLive:
"I think the depth of the draft is obviously a factor, in terms of you start thinking about trading up, what are you missing out on?" Mayhew said. "But sometimes the guys are elite players who are difference-makers.
"If you're picking 10, and there's five elite players, and you can get one of those guys (in the top five), we think there's value in (doing that)."
Whether or not the Lions should actually trade up to get Watkins is an entirely different conversation. However, I think it's safe to say at this point that the Lions do view Watkins as one of the elite players in this year's draft. That's not to say that they will go out of their way to go up and get him, but if the right deal comes along, a trade certainly wouldn't be a surprise based on these recent comments from Mayhew and Caldwell.