The Packers picked a wide receiver! Despite some predictions of a Day 1 selection at WR, Green Bay chose to select Quay Walker and Devont’e Wyatt in the first round of the NFL Draft. Recognizing that Green Bay still had a need at receiver, Brian Gutekunst made the decision to move up for his man in Day 2. The Packers traded both their second round picks (no. 53 and 59) for the Vikings’ second-rounder (no. 34). Using the new draft slot, Green Bay selected NDSU WR Christian Watson. Watson is not the first member of his family to play for the Packers. His father, DB Tim Watson, was a sixth-round selection for Green Bay in 1993.
An Athletic Freak
Watson is one of the craziest athletes in this year’s draft class. The receiver came in at 6’4″ 208 lbs, with 32 1/2″ arms and 10 1/8″ hands. He ran a 4.36 second 40-yard dash, making him one of the fastest players in the 2022 NFL Draft. In addition, he recorded a 38.5 inch vertical jump and an 11’4″ broad jump. Watson’s numbers were good for a generational 10 RAS, which is the maximum score possible.
Big Plays for Days
If there is one thing Christian Watson can do well, it is stretch defenses deep. Over his NDSU career, he averaged over 20 yards per reception. According to the NDSU website, Watson was an “explosive playmaker responsible for 57 plays that went 20-plus yards on 180 career rushing, receiving and return attempts.” This versatility and game-breaking ability showed up constantly on film. Watson had the speed to score touchdowns from anywhere on the field. His size allows him to break tackles and get yards after the catch. NDSU used him in the backfield and on jet sweeps, as well as deep and intermediate routes.
The prevailing narrative on Christian Watson is that he is a raw, traits-based prospect. Despite this, I thought that Watson showed a surprising ability to sink on routes and change direction quickly. He also demonstrated a decent amount of polish in running downfield route concepts. Questions about the quality of competition Watson faced at NDSU may be justified. However, Watson also performed well at the Senior Bowl. Playing against NFL-caliber draft prospects, Watson showed he could use different releases and route running techniques. While he still may need some development, I believe that Watson can be ready to contribute in his rookie year.
Why Watson Was a Good Pick
Although the Packers paid a high price to move up in the second round, Christian Watson is a special talent. Few players at any position have the athletic profile that Watson does. Green Bay has a clear need at wide receiver, and they obviously were huge fans of Watson. Christian Watson can give the Packers speed and big-play ability at the receiver spot while he continues to develop other areas of his game. With his tools, Watson could end up being a generational player and the next great Packers wide receiver.