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Browns WR Austin Watkins has jumped off the page in earning a roster spot

The Cleveland Browns wide receiver Austin Watkins has certainly jumped off the page quickly in this preseason. In the most recent game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he was everywhere collecting seven receptions for 139 yards including a touchdown. Through three games he’s now collected 16 receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns.

He was brought in by the Browns after playing for the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL where in seven games he collected 197 yards on 15 receptions and a touchdown. I recall, watching him play in the championship game where the Stallions won the USFL title, and Watkins caught that touchdown. He stands at 6’3 and is very smooth in his movements and with his speed he really has popped as we’ve watched him play here in Cleveland.

Watkins has certainly earned a spot with the team and hopefully, he will get that call when they announce to 53-man roster in a few weeks.

Getting to this point and a job in the NFL has taken a while to materialize but it could pay off now with the Browns. He came out of high school down in Fort Myers, Florida, and first went and played at a JUCO college out at Dodge City in Kansas. He then went to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where in his junior season he made a name for himself. He finished with 1,092 reception yards on 57 catches and had six touchdowns. The 2020 season followed and the pandemic had a bearing on a short season where his numbers were cut in half.

Watkins went undrafted in the 2021 NFL Draft and has since played on various squads, mostly on practice teams. He started with the San Fransisco 49ers for a brief stint. He was briefly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was cut before even taking a snap in practice. He had a week’s stay in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and then shifted to the USFL and the Memphis Showboats. He then played for the Birmingham Stallions this past spring before now signing with the Browns.

There are several locks at wide receiver already for Cleveland including Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman, and more than likely Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Bell. Beyond those players, the team is probably going to keep two more wide receivers.

The veteran kick returner Jakeem Grant could be one of the receivers but that’s still not a lock. The other would have to be Watkins.

The other veteran wide receiver who was expected to be part of that group initially was Marquise Goodwin, but he has suffered a health setback with blood clotting, and we don’t know what to expect with that outcome.

Maybe the Browns could put Goodwin on a medical list and still keep him with the team.

Regardless, when it comes to Watkins, the Browns have to give him a spot. If they were to release him or try to put him on the practice squad, another team in the NFL would swoop in and pick him up in an instant.

Watkins has separated himself from the rest of the Browns outliner wide receivers in this preseason, by making some dazzling catches and having some career performances. One can’t deny a seven-reception and 139-yard game. That’s a huge game even if it is only preseason.

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