The Green Bay Packers entered day two of the NFL Draft needing a wide receiver. They wasted no time finding one, trading up with a division rival to grab their guy in North Dakota State’s Christian Watson.
Brian Gutekunst traded picks No. 53 and No. 59 to the Minnesota Vikings to move up to No. 34. They used the selection to take Watson, who was a borderline first-round talent after a stellar career in the FCS and had a breakout showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. It may be a decision the Vikings regret, despite what the trade value chart says, as Watson will now be catching passes against them every year from Aaron Rodgers.
As a member of the Bisons, Watson led the team in receptions and receiving yards for three straight seasons. Those unfamiliar with Watson received a crash course introduction at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine when Watson measured at 6-4 and 208 pounds before running a 4.36 in the 40 and logging a 38.5-inch vertical leap. His athleticism, coupled with his size, earned him a near-perfect RAS score from Kent Lee Platte.
As a player, Watson is a coach’s dream. He’s got a strong work ethic and will be great in the locker room. Also, his skillset matches what the Packers need.
In college, Watson was an All-American kick returner and will compete for those duties right away. He ranked ninth in school history with 686 kickoff return yards and tied the school record with two kickoff return touchdowns during his junior season. Watson will help a Green Bay special teams unit in desperate need of a boost.
On offense, Watson will be a versatile piece for one Matt LaFleur. When Green Bay lost Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, the offense lost an explosive element to the passing game. Watson can replenish that void as an explosive playmaker responsible for 57 plays that went 20-plus yards in college. He can take the top off a defense with his imposing speed or run by people on jet sweeps and end-arounds.
Watson will need to improve his hands and route running, but the latter is an area that has gotten better every year. Check out this film review for a more in-depth breakdown of Watson.
Right away, the Packers can use Watson’s size and speed to turn him into an immediate contributor. If Watson lives up to his true potential, he will follow in the footsteps of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams as the next great Green Bay receiver selected in the second round.