The Packers surrendered their top option at the position, trading away All-Pro Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders in March in return for first- and second-round draft picks. Green Bay made the decision despite holding the wideout’s rights for the 2022 regular season via the franchise tag.
Green Bay was expected to use one of its two first-round selections in this year’s NFL Draft on a wide receiver, or perhaps package multiple picks to move up and snag one, but that move never materialized. There was a run on the WR position early on Day 1, leaving the Packers to select linebacker Quay Walker and defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt at pick Nos. 22 and 28, respectively.
Green Bay then dealt its two late second-round selections to move up to pick No. 34 and draft Christian Watson out of North Dakota State University. While the young pass catcher was the seventh wide receiver taken in the 2022 draft, he is projected to be the top option for four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers once the regular season rolls around.
Cobb, a veteran and long-time teammate of Rodgers who returned to Green Bay at the QB’s behest last season, spoke about Watson to Wes Hodkiewicz of the Packers’ team website on Wednesday, May 25.
“He has the total package,” Cobb said. “Just being around him for the past week and seeing some of the things he can do, he has all the tools. He’s very gifted.”
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Watson to Lead Group of Experienced WRs Lacking Top-End Talent
The brass in Green Bay have surprised some fans and analysts by their approach to the wide receiver position thus far this offseason.
Rodgers made it clear after the Packers’ playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers that he has no interest in being part of a rebuild. And so the team spent substantially, both by making the quarterback the highest annually paid player in NFL history and by locking down quality performers across the roster. Much of that money, however, has been spent on the defensive side of the football. Former Baltimore Ravens wideout Sammy Watkins is the biggest name at wideout the Packers have secured thus far via free agency.
Watkins joins Watson, Cobb and Allen Lazard as Green Bay’s projected top four wide receivers, after Marquez Valdes-Scantling departed the team this offseason to join the Kansas City Chiefs. Rookie Romeo Doubs and second-year wideout Amari Rodgers are also expected to get some run and may have a chance to contribute next season.
Packers May Still be in Market For Free Agent Wide Receiver
Watson’s ascendance to the presumptive No. 1 wide receiver this early in OTAs is somewhat surprising for several reasons, even despite his prominent draft position. The first is that he has been with the team all of just a few weeks. The second is that Rodgers has a reputation of impatience surrounding the mistakes often made by young pass catchers learning the NFL game.
As such, the Packers could still be in the mix for some free agents who remain available as the month of June approaches. At the top of that list is former Los Angeles Rams wideout and Super Bowl champion Odell Beckham Jr.
Though he tore his ACL during the second quarter of the championship game, Beckham remains a viable option for a team like Green Bay, which is projected by most oddsmakers to win the NFC North Division and earn a trip back to playoffs whether they ink another quality wide receiver or not.
Beckham, 29, is likely to return to the field at some point mid-season, and will be available at a bargain-bin price due to his injury and the resulting lack of early availability. He remains young and talented enough to provide a spark for the Packers, both down the stretch and into the postseason, especially with a QB of Rodgers’ caliber passing him the football. A big finish to the year could lead to one more sizable contract for Beckham, meaning that incentive to work together exists on both sides of the potential equation.
Another possibility for Green Bay is former All-Pro Julio Jones. Beckham’s senior by four years, the 33-year-old Jones has struggled with injuries over the past few seasons and posted career lows across the board with the Tennessee Titans last year.
However, the quality Rodgers provides can offer hope to an aging wide receiver who was a revelation during his decade with the Atlanta Falcons. If the Packers believe Jones can stay healthy for a full campaign, he might also make sense as a late offseason addition.