Christian Watson Draft Profile
Christian Watson is one of the most unique wide receiver prospects that I have evaluated. It was impossible for me to come up with a normal pro comparison for him because his game is that different. I have never seen a receiver prospect quite like Christian Watson, and that is why I could see a team’s evaluation on him ranging from a first-round pick all the way to a day-three guy. When it comes to me personally, I love what Watson has to offer. Every year on the day of the draft, I create a “my guys” list for players that I would target if I was an NFL general manager; I can guarantee you Watson will be on that list. He was Trey Lance’s number one receiver in college and he has the potential to move the game forward. In the NBA, we have reached a point where it is “position-less basketball” meaning guys can play any position one through five. Watson has the talent to play just about any skill position on the field and he is one of my favorite evaluations in this year’s draft.
There is no doubt in my mind that Watson passes the “eye-test”, he is 6’4 and runs a 4.36 40 yard dash. The dude was built in a lab and offers a play-caller the ability to be extremely creative. It is not often that you see guys the same size as Anthony Edwards running routes and taking hands-offs. Watson’s versatility and natural talent offer a play-caller the freedom to innovate and call plays that we have never seen before— he is an offensive mind’s dream. As a pure receiver, he is a phenomenal vertical threat that uses his size and physicality to generate separation. His long strides also help him burn any defensive back that is in his way. He embraces blocking— teams could use him as a lead blocker on outside runs and for chop blocks on inside runs. He is also capable of taking hands-off as both a running back and on reverses. After the catch, you see his pure speed come into play— that is where he really reaches his second gear. When the ball is in the air, Watson does a great job at showing “late hands” which prevents the defensive backs from making a play. At North Dakota State, he even returned kicks despite being 6’4. There were also subtle things like Watson running all the way down from the other side of the field to celebrate with his teammate that show the type of person that he is. I believe Christian Watson has the potential to be what we all wanted Jalen Hurd to be.
The most obvious knock on Watson is the level of competition he played against at North Dakota State. He rarely faced any technically sound-press man corners and could be in for a rude awakening once he gets into the league. We did not really see him reach into his release package because he did not go up against a lot of tight-man coverage. While he is naturally talented, his hands don’t look natural. He had quite a few drops at NDSU and he will have to work with the jugs machine once he gets into the league. Watson might not find instant success, but I see stardom coming his way.
It is damn-near impossible to find an accurate pro comparison for Christian Watson. His versatility and natural ability are similar to DJ Moore’s, but as a pure receiver, he is a lot like Courtland Sutton. I have a first-round grade on him, but I can see him falling to the top of the second round because a team might not know what to do with him. The Titans could use a young guy next to AJ Brown, the Colts need a true number one receiver, and the Packers a new number one now that Davante Adams is gone. In football, legacy is all about moving the game forward and leaving it better than when you came in. Watson has the chance to have a great legacy and leave a major impact on this game— I am a big fan of his game.
Ability to Separate: 8/10
Release/Top of Routes: 6/8
Route Running: 6.25/8
Contested Catch: 7.75/8
Hands + Catch Radius: 5.5/8
Speed + Control: 6.5/7
Natural Talent: 5/5
Final Rating: 87
Pro Comparison: DJ Moore in Courtland Sutton’s Body
Team Fits: Titans, Colts, Packers
Draft Grade: First Round Pick
Draft Projection: Early Second Rounder