Christian Watson NFL Draft Prospect Profile and Scouting Report

NFL Draft Profile: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State

Name: Christian Watson

School: North Dakota State University

Year: Senior

Position: Wide Receiver

Measurables: 6’5”, 205 lbs per NDSU Athletics

 

Stats: 

General Info:

Born in Tampa, Florida to former NFL defensive back and Howard University star Tim Watson. Watson was a two-way player at H.B. Plant High School, seeing time at both Wide Receiver and Safety as a key member of the school’s 2016 state runner-up team.

Watson was sparsely recruited out of high school despite his team’s success, with 247 Sports listing North Dakota State as the only school that gave him an offer. He was a composite two-star recruit in the class of 2017, the 501st WR, 536th Floridian, and 3689th recruit nationally. He redshirted his first season.

Following his redshirt Freshman season, Watson began seeing the field, though he played sparsely. His first season playing, Watson started only two games (though he appeared in all 14), recording nine receptions, as well as seeing some time as a kick returner.

Watson’s 2019 sophomore season was a huge breakout for him. Starting 11 games, Watson recording 34 catches, but 732 yards on an astonishing 21.53 yards-per-reception. He also added 162 yards on the ground, a career high.

2020 was another step for Watson. Multiple outlets, including AP and Phil Steele, named Watson their All-American kickoff returner. During the year, he vindicated his selection, scoring two kickoff return TDs (the only FCS player to do so that season, per NDSU athletics). His receiving stats did decline sharply, however—he dropped to 19 receptions and 437 yards, although his YPC increased to 24.3. He recorded 100+ yards on the ground for a second straight season.

Watson’s final year was a return to form, as he recorded career highs in receptions, yards, and TDs, and while his YPC dropped, it remained an extremely impressive 18.6, good for second in the Mountain Valley Football Conference. He also continued to impress on the ground, recording over 100+ yards for the third year in a row on just 15 carries, recording nearly 1000 yards from scrimmage, and over 1100 all-purpose yards as he excelled as a kick returner once again. After the season, Watson was one of two NDSU Bisons invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

 

Positional Skills:

Strengths

  • Normally there is an assumption that, for guys listed as big as Watson, that the school has cooked his measurements. However, when you watch his highlights, Watson looks 6’5”. He is genuinely huge.
  • He is as explosive as dynamite. NDSU credits him with 57 plays that went for over 20 yards, which comprises 32% of his career touches.
  • Despite his size, he is one of the fastest WRs in the class: in high school he was clocked as running a 4.44 second 40-yard dash, a number he should easily improve on after four years of college ball. He isn’t just high top-speed player, though: his acceleration is just as impressive. Watson’s crazy speed is what allowed him to generate such a high “explosive play rate,” as he just blew by the college competition.
  • Watson is willing to lower his shoulder and make some contact with defensive backs, which can pick up a couple extra yards at the end of plays. There is a little bit of Brandon Marshall in his attitude.
  • He has the ability to take some snaps out of the backfield. He won’t be Cordarrelle Patterson, but he could see a few snaps at running back each week.

Weaknesses

  • Despite his outrageous size, Watson is not a great contested catch WR right now. He has gotten away with it in college, where his speed allowed him to avoid contested catch situations, but he will not find it as easy in the pros.
  • Insert obligatory “competition level comment.” NDSU is an FCS team, and Watson’s dominance came against players much less likely to see time in the NFL.
  • Tends to use his body to catch balls. He needs to become more confident/comfortable using his hands to snag passes.
  • Doesn’t attack the ball, which may be part of his issue as a contested catch guy. He tends to wait for the ball to get to him, which may result in getting undercut by DBs.
  • Not a sharp lateral mover, both as a route-runner and a ball carrier, leading to rounded-off routes and a lot of momentum loss when trying to make people miss. Like with the contested-catches, his speed excused sloppiness.
  • Lots of drops in college. Needs to concentrate on catches.

Fit with the Packers:

There are not a lot of WRs in the NFL who Christian Watson can be compared to, as his size-speed combo and player profile is unique. However, if there was a current NFL player I would say Watson is similar to, I would point at Green Bay’s very own Marquez Valdez-Scantling. They are both tall, fast WRs, and both Watson and MVS have struggled (especially as draft prospects) with drops, sloppy routes, and a lack of aggressiveness when it comes to catching the ball.

Watson’s fit in Green Bay, therefore, is obvious: take over the deep-threat role from MVS, who is set to become a free agent. With his speed, Watson will force defenses to stay honest and guard against the deep ball, as he would be a threat to take the top off on any play. Additionally, Watson may be able to produce on designed touches—screens, end-arounds, and the like—in the short passing game, given his explosiveness. His ability out of the backfield could be a boon, too: stick Watson back there and generate a matchup against a safety or a linebacker in the passing game or give him the ball and see if he can break a big one. Even if MVS does return to Green Bay, one can never have too many deep threats, and Watson’s ability should make him a target for Green Bay late in the second round. Although he is a bit of a project, the upside is immense. It will be interesting to see where he is drafted—he is one of those players that is going to be mocked anywhere from a late first rounder to a day three pick by media members.

 

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3 points

Comments (7)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
stockholder's picture

February 26, 2022 at 03:19 pm

Better then Claypool. Top 50pick.

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splitpea1's picture

February 26, 2022 at 03:23 pm

Hello kick returner/gunner. He would certainly be an upgrade over who we've got now, but then again, so would almost anybody.

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LLCHESTY's picture

February 26, 2022 at 04:04 pm

Quite a few Packer beat writers think he's a "Packer" guy but they usually like younger players in the early rounds. Maybe with Rodgers staying they'll look to guys with more experience. Seems like a replacement candidate for MVS but there are others.

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JQ's picture

February 26, 2022 at 04:08 pm

I think Watson could thrive as a Packer, and I agree it will be interesting to see how long he lasts on the board.

On a different note Tristen, you may want to edit your stats; they show years 1993-1997 and the player attended Niagra University in the MAAC!

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JerseyAl's picture

February 26, 2022 at 06:15 pm

doh! It's fixed.

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JQ's picture

February 26, 2022 at 07:32 pm

I noticed. Thanks Al, for verifying for that I wasn't hallucinating! () - : #

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MarkinMadison's picture

February 26, 2022 at 04:41 pm

I don't see him as a top player. If his best comparison is MVS then he probably shouldn't be taken before the third or fourth round. Looks like a special team contributor or 3rd or 4th WR.

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