Future No. 1 pass-catchers

Sammy Watkins, Cordarrelle Patterson among those with star potential

Updated: April 8, 2014, 9:21 AM ET
By Matt Williamson | ESPN Insider

Sammy WatkinsAP Photo/Rainier EhrhardtClemson draft prospect Sammy Watkins caught 101 passes for Clemson in 2013.

Earlier this week, I looked at the players I view as true No. 1 receivers in the NFL. But who makes up the next generation of receivers who could someday fit that description?

This league is filled with intriguing young and emerging receiving talent, and there is plenty more talent on the way via the NFL draft in May. In fact, this should be the best class of wide receivers we have seen in quite some time. Below I rank these promising youngsters in order of how good of a chance I give them to become a true star pass-catcher, including both wide receivers and pass-catching tight ends. (Note: If I included a receiver on Monday's list of current No. 1 targets, I didn't include them here.) Dynasty-league fantasy owners especially should take note.

1. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson Tigers: As with the other rookies on this list, we don't yet know where Watkins, the No. 1 receiver prospect, according to both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, will land and I really don't care. I am this high on Watkins no matter what team he winds up with. The only thing Watkins is missing is great height, but he plays with aggression and physicality; he reminds me of the Ravens' Steve Smith in that regard, and also in how he plays bigger than he is. He also reminds me of Julio Jones in that he is violent and abrupt with all his movements, but also very fluid and under control. Watkins is a great weapon short -- he excels with the ball in his hands -- as well as deep, where he can run past defenders. I have little doubt in my mind Watkins will be truly great.