What’s the hype behind NFL Draft prospect WR Christian Watson?
By Juan Vasquez
What’s the hype behind WR Christian Watson? The North Dakota State WR has caught a lot of buzz due to his performance at the Senior Bowl, which was dominant. But there was doubts surrounding how good he would be because of the level of competition against smaller schools.
Watson comes from a run first offense in North Dakota State, he stands a lengthy 6’5″, recorded 800 yards, and scored 7 Touchdowns in 2021. An exceptional run-blocker but also a trailblazing deep threat, it could be said that Watson would have produced much more in a more pass friendly offense with a better QB.
It is reported Watson runs around a 4.4 40-yard dash but we will see the official time at the combine.
This type of background usually sets up a WR with a long runway to learn, and Watson himself stated how he was able to improve under NFL coaching staff at the Senior Bowl.
At the 2022 NFL Combine Christian Watson was asked what were some of his takeaways from the coaching at the Senior Bowl:
"“Time is limited in the term of utilizing coaching points, one thing I took in was releases at the goal-line.”“We got a bunch of reps on goal line 1-on-1’s, being able to work on my release a little bit more and hear the coaches tips. [Learning] to utilize my size and my quickness to move the DB off the line, and create space at the goal-line.”"
Video clip of the question.
It’s clear that Watson was a sponge to the information given to him at the Senior Bowl, he barely ever lost a 1-on-1 drill vs a DB. Implemented skills that helped him dominate higher level competition, all within a week.
How much could he improve in an entire off-season?
Would Christian Watson fit with the Miami Dolphins?
Many people on Twitter have posted Christian Watson’s jet sweep highlights to try and make a comparison to Deebo Samuel, I heavily disagree with that.
The tape shows that these plays for Watson were able to breakout due to the space he was working with, many jet-sweeps and run plays saw Watson finding an open hole and turning on the jets.
You don’t get that type of space in the NFL, how would this skillset transition? that’s a chance the team that drafts him has to take, on top of that teams that like Watson would probably see him as a vertical deep threat.
However there are some aspects of his game I think would fit with the Dolphins, and his versatility has a lot to do with it.
Watson already comes from a run first offense where the WR’s have to be gritty and engage in blocking very often. Watson proved to be an exceptional run blocker, and very physical player, the type of blueprint McDaniel wants to bring to Miami.
But it’s important to remember one thing, Christian Watson’s stock has risen tremendously but he’s still not in the realms of the established WR prospects we know from this draft like Jahan Dotson, Treylon Burks, Chris Olave and others.
But Miami does have a 3rd round pick, and two 4th round picks which is the area I think Watson will be drafted in, if the opportunity presents itself; I think Dolphins GM Chris Grier should take a shot at this high value prospect.
Some of the best receivers in the NFL were drafted in the later rounds:
- Tyreek Hill (5th Rd)
- Stefon Diggs (5th Rd)
- Antonio Brown (7th Rd)
- Keenan Allen (3rd Rd)
Senior Bowl standout:
Coming into Senior Bowl week Christian Watson was seen as a player with some upside but not a big time standout, after all his level of competition at North Dakota State had put his stock fairly low.
Watson completely lit up the Senior Bowl being hands down the best player at the event, leaving reporters there very impressed.
Watson’s release is explosive and too quick to keep up with, which is why he won most of his reps against DB’s at the Senior Bowl. The North Dakota State WR had some doubters coming in, now he’s labeled as a possible hidden gem.
Although he is far from hidden talent now.
Watson’s tape from North Dakota state showed inconsistency catching the football on deep throws, reliable on middle to short distance. He also showed trouble getting underneath the ball on deep routes and at times struggled catching them as well.
But then again most receivers this draft are dealing with that issue in some type of way.
One of his biggest weaknesses in my opinion is his ability to bring in passes outside a normal catch radius, but that doesn’t mean Watson can’t catch through contact.
As you can see here he’s very capable of catching through contact, and although there are some inconsistencies in that type of catch. Watson’s biggest need for improvement would be consistency on catching deep passes, and receptions outside his normal catch radius.
That’s not to say he isn’t capable of things like this:
In my opinion he’s a very raw talent, needs to work on fixing dropped balls but his route running is exceptional and he has all the physical tools to become a quality player in the NFL.
Watson’s explosiveness can betray him by throwing him off balance at times, particularly off the line. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed because NFL DB’s can really take advantage of that, something that in my opinion can be fixed easily with coaching.
At 6’5″ he has the frame to add the freak catch to his arsenal, elite big receivers with speed make a living out of those type of catches in the NFL. The Tee Higgins’, Mike Evans’ and D.K Metcalf’s of the world, however Watson improved very drastically with only one week of NFL coaching.
That means he could have a lot more room for development, and after the combine it’s likely that Christian Watson’s stock will only keep going up. If Watson is available in the 3rd or 4th round there’s no reason the Dolphins shouldn’t take a chance him.
Great fit for the new Dolphins offense, and while still developing McDaniel can use his versatility to put him in different roles.