The hope for Green Bay Packers rookie wide receiver Christian Watson is that he’ll eventually become the favorite target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
It’s unreasonable to expect the young receiver to ultimately replace All-Pro Davante Adams, who is one of the top wideouts in the league, but after the Packers sent two second-round picks (No. 53 and 59 overall) to the Minnesota Vikings in order to draft Watson 34th overall, the hope is that with time, he’ll turn into a top-tier WR.
There’s one major thing he may need to clean up first, however.
One of the primary issues for the 23-year-old wide receiver in college at North Dakota State was dropped passes. Watson dropped 16 passes on 120 career catchable targets at NDSU, per Pro Football Focus, and PFF’s Mike Renner noted prior to the draft that his “drop issues and ball tracking” were “a tad concerning.”
It’s very early, but based on reports emerging from Green Bay’s OTAs, it’s looking as though drops are still an issue for Watson.
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Analyst: Watson’s ‘Hands Have Definitely Been Questionable’
Watson hauled in 105 passes for 2,140 yards and 14 touchdowns in his 52 career games with the Bison, averaging an impressive 20.4 yards per catch. He stood out in a run-heavy scheme at NDSU, but he broke out at the NFL Scouting Combine, when he displayed his speed and athleticism by running a 4.36 40-yard dash and leaping for a 38.5-inch vertical.
So far during practices, Watson has been working on making adjustments as the ball is thrown, which is a good thing:
But he has also dropped multiple passes that should have been caught.
“Christian Watson had another drop against air in drills today,” Packer Report’s Andy Herman tweeted on May 31. “His hands have definitely been questionable. I don’t think there’s been a practice yet where he hasn’t dropped at least one pass. Does it matter much? Prob not – but noteworthy at least.”
Gaining Rodgers’ Trust Will Be Important
“July and August are the most important months of the offseason for Watson, who must battle through his drops issues if he hopes to earn the trust of his coaching staff and more importantly, his elite quarterback,” Justin Melo of The Draft Network wrote on June 1.
Melo has a solid point. Establishing a solid rapport and gaining the trust of the future Hall of Fame quarterback is going to be crucial for Watson. Rodgers hasn’t been at OTAs yet, so that process will start soon.
Still, there’s absolutely no need to panic about Watson. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds, he is big, fast and one of the most versatile wideouts drafted in 2022. He should be just fine. Besides, training camp and OTAs are exactly where young players want to iron out the wrinkles in their respective games.
Another interesting development to monitor could be the potential emergence of Watson’s fellow rookie wideout Romeo Doubs, who has been making a name for himself during team practices:
With a wide receivers room that includes vets Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Allen Lazard and 2021 third-rounder Amari Rodgers, there’s plenty of room for either Watson or Doubs to take center stage.
“I’m just trying to make as big of an impact as I can,” Watson said during the rookie minicamp, via Sports Illustrated. “If that impact is in the run game, then I’m just as excited to do that. I think it’s an area that I can definitely grow, but I think the willing is there to go out there and put my body on the line for my teammates and make those blocks. I’m definitely excited.”
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