NFC Exec Predicts Breakout for Packers Rookie WR: Sources

NFL Exec on Watson

Getty Aaron Rodgers is putting a bit more on the shoulders of his rookie receivers in 2022.

The Green Bay Packers are still figuring things out with their new rookie wide receivers two games into the 2022 season, but there are some in high-ranking positions around the league who believe second-round pick Christian Watson could have a starring role before the year is over.

Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo recently spoke with an NFC personnel executive about the Packers’ current situation at receiver and asked which of their pass-catchers he believes has the best chance of breaking out and making an impact in 2022. In his opinion, though, the emergent star won’t be the guy Aaron Rodgers has talked up as their new WR1 or veteran addition Sammy Watkins.

“It’s going to have to be Christian Watson,” The exec told Lombardo. “He has size, speed, and big-play ability. It’s a big receiver game now, the majority of the offensive snaps that you see around the league. Christian fits that mold. He dominated at the lower level of college football. He has all the physical traits to be good.”

Aaron Rodgers Will Hold Rookie WRs to Standards

Watson hasn’t exactly taken the NFL by storm over the first two games of his career. The No. 34 overall pick’s most memorable play thus far has been the would-be 75-yard touchdown pass that he dropped on the first play of the Packers’ Week 1 opening drive. Since then, he has caught a few short passes here and there (five catches for 43 yards) but has otherwise taken a backseat to other, more experienced pass-catchers.

The Packers, however, have said all along that they believed it would be a process getting both Watson and fellow rookie Romeo Doubs ready for the roles they have planned for them. Aaron Rodgers has also acknowledged that there will be bumps in the road for both of them even though his expectations remain high.

“The guys know I’m going to hold them accountable because I believe in them,” Rodgers told reporters in Week 2. “As I’ve said in camp, if I’m not talking to you, you might be pretty far out on a limb and need to start reeling in a little bit. But there’s a standard I’m going to hold these guys to because I believe in them, but also there’s a patience that comes with the inexperience. I think I’ve learned how to balance that, but the direct conversations are the best way. These are good kids. They really are. They want to please, they want to do the right thing, they care about it. I’m going to figure out a way to continue to get on the same frequency with them.”

Watson Developing His ‘Route Tree’ Will Be Crucial

An important piece of the puzzle for Watson will be strengthening his connection with Rodgers over the upcoming weeks, but he will also need to continue leaning into the physical gifts that he showed at North Dakota State that drew the Packers to him in the first place.

While Watson’s touches remain relatively low after two weeks, his speed has been evident nearly every time he has touched the ball. According to Next Gen Stats, Watson has been clocked as one of the top 20 fastest ball carriers on two occasions over the first two games, recording the 10th-fastest speed of 20.82 MPH on his 7-yard end-around run in Week 1 and then accelerating to 20.6 MPH on his 9-yard reception against the Chicago Bears in the home opener.

That type of speed in the hands of a four-time MVP quarterback can be extremely dangerous if harnessed in the right way. If Watson can also refine some of the weaker parts of his game — and also expand his route tree — it could only be a matter of time before he is making an impact every single game for Green Bay.

“[Watson] going to be fine,” The NFC exec told Lombardo. “It’s going to come down to him learning the route tree because he was never really asked to run it in college. He’s a smart kid, he will, he’ll be fine.”

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