It happened. The Green Bay Packers drafted a wide receiver. They no longer have Davante Adams. They have infamously opted not to draft numerous talented wideouts in years past.
On Friday night, the Packers did the unthinkable when they traded up to nab North Dakota State’s Christian Watson.
The former Bison is a 6-foot-4, 208-pound size-speed freak who runs a 4.36 40, but his production profile leaves a lot to be desired. He took five years to break out (at a 30% Dominator Rating threshold) at North Dakota State, although he did account for 36% of NDSU’s receiving yards as a junior. Moreover, he was not an early declare and in fact stayed five seasons in Fargo after redshirting as a freshman. Players in his mold have struggled in the past:
Non-Power 5, non-early-declare wide receivers drafted in Round 2 since 2011: Anthony Miller, Zay Jones, Aaron Dobson, Titus Young, Andy Isabella, D'Wayne Eskridge, Brian Quick…Christian Watson.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) April 29, 2022
He’ll play his entire rookie season as a 23-year-old, making him an older rookie. Simply put, he wasn’t very productive in college despite playing in the FCS, but his athleticism offers a massive ceiling, and the landing spot is just about perfect. Let’s get into where Watson ranks in ETR’s projections.
Projection: 48.6 catches on 81.0 targets for 637.8 yards and 4.3 touchdowns. WR57 on Underdog (114th overall).
- As outlined in the introduction, Watson’s college production is pretty weak for a Round 2 prospect, but his combination of draft capital and athleticism offers some allure nonetheless. Plus, the Packers need someone to soak up targets in the worst way; before the draft, we had Allen Lazard leading the team in target share with Aaron Jones not far behind. Entering his age-38 season, Rodgers has shown no signs of slowing down, and Watson has an unmatched ceiling if he can assert himself as a top-two option in the Green Bay aerial attack.
- Still, the meager production at North Dakota State raises questions about his likelihood of earning targets in Year 1. We erred on the conservative side with Watson on account of his lack of production, but we gave him a high target ceiling in case he outperforms our expectations. He has a wide range of outcomes as a rookie and possesses league-winning upside if things break right, and that lands him in WR5 territory in our rankings.
OTHER PACKERS PLAYERS
- We had already baked in the likelihood of the Packers adding a wide receiver – perhaps not the safest assumption given their history of ignoring the position, but it had to happen at some point, right? So, not much changed with the other pass-catchers in our projections. This is still a subpar receiving corps, and it’s possible they add a free agent to the mix before the season kicks off. For the time being, we have Watson and Lazard atop the wide receiver depth chart.