2022 NFL Draft: Christian Watson Player Profile

Christian Watson NFL Draft
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Christian Watson NFL Draft Overview

Position: Wide receiver
Height: 6′ 4”
Weight: 208 pounds
School: North Dakota State

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Christian Watson 2022 NFL Draft Profile

After spending the entirety of his collegiate career with North Dakota State, wide receiver Christian Watson is taking his talents to the next level in the 2022 NFL Draft. Watson is coming off of the best season of his career, recording 43 receptions for 801 yards and seven touchdowns.

Watson originally entered the collegiate football ranks as a two-star recruit. After redshirting through the 2017 season, the wide receiver recorded nine receptions for 165 yards in 2018. He broke out in 2019, hauling in 34 receptions for 732 yards and six touchdowns while earning All-MVFC honors and leading his team in receiving yards.

He followed that up by recording 19 receptions for 442 yards and one touchdown in 2020. While this might not sound like much, he still led the team in yardage. North Dakota State was a run-heavy offense, and Watson’s overall numbers were limited due to that philosophy.

Strengths

  • Big play threat every time he touches the ball – averaged 20.4 yards per reception in college;
  • Fantastic measurables – tested in the 90th percentile in 40-yard dash, 10-yard split, and broad jump;
  • Breakaway speed shows up on film – can be deadly if schemed into space;
  • Has the height and ball tracking abilities to potentially win contested situations downfield;
  • Reaches max speed quickly thanks to impressive acceleration;
  • Can be used in the backfield – started one game at running back;
  • Special teams experience with legitimate upside as a returner.

Weaknesses

  • Lacks the muscle to hold up against physical cornerbacks in press coverage;
  • Something of a one-trick pony – won’t do much on short and intermediate routes;
  • Will need to add strength at the next level;
  • 12 drops over the past two seasons;
  • Redshirt Senior playing in the FCS, so there will be a massive jump in competition.

Teams with need at the position: Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints

NFL comparison: Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Projection: 3rd Round

Bottom Line on Christian Watson

Christian Watson is a fantastic athlete that can succeed in the NFL under the right circumstances. His 4.36 40-yard dash is no fluke, as Watson’s film is overflowing with moments where he simply blows right past the opposing defense. While he’s not an elite route runner, he can change his pace to lull defenders into a false sense of security before truly taking off.

Watson’s speed is clearly his biggest asset, and the right coaching staff should be able to use that speed in a wide variety of situations. While he’ll make his money on deep routes, he also has experience lining up in the background and could potentially be lethal on end-arounds or if used in a Cordarrelle Patterson role. Additionally, also like Patterson, Watson has experience as a returner and could develop into one of the NFL’s more dangerous special teams weapons.

Watson should be an effective gadget and situational player from Day 1, but it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll ever develop into a true starting wide receiver. While he is fast and tall, he lacks the strength needed to win against physical cornerbacks and can get bullied at the point of attack when he can’t get by on height and speed alone. Additionally, he didn’t go up against the strongest competition in college, so he will definitely need some time to adjust to life in the NFL.

Ultimately, there is a role in the NFL for a player like Christian Watson. However, unless he develops more as a route runner or adds a lot of strength, he probably won’t be anything more than an exciting gadget player that can haul in the occasional deep shot.

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