Senior Bowl week culminated with the highly anticipated college football all-star game on February 5 and many New York Jets fans were watching intently as potential targets duked it out in Mobile, Alabama.
Different prospects turned heads throughout the week as Robert Saleh’s staff coached the “National Team” but one seemed to impress at every turn — wide receiver Christian Watson.
After practice on February 4, Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy tweeted that “North Dakota State’s Christian Watson was named top WR on the National team in a vote from CB group at practice player-of-the-week awards ceremony today at 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl.”
It didn’t take long for him to prove that he deserved that honor during the game.
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Highlight Reel Play Caps Big Week for Watson
During the first half of the Senior Bowl, quarterback Kenny Pickett hit Watson on the first notable gainer of the outing.
The acrobatic 38-yard catch and run — or roll — set the National team up for the first touchdown of the game. It also set Jets Twitter ablaze with Watson support.
uSTADIUM described the clutch play: “Christian Watson just made himself a lot of money on a phenomenal circus catch- off of a bad underthrow from Kenny Pickett.”
An NYJ fan immediately commented: “Christian Watson future Jets 4th rounder.” But are those days gone after the monster week from the NDSU product?
Another kept it simple, voicing: “Draft Christian Watson @nyjets.” That begs the question, how high will the appealing wide-out rise in the ranks?
A third fan asked whether Gang Green should draft him at No. 35 or 38 overall in round two and beat reporter DJ Bien-Aime has been hyping the talent all week. On February 3, he responded to the question of which WR’s or DB’s have stood out the most.
“For the national team: Coby Bryant from Cincy,” Bien-Aime replied. “WR Christian Watson from NDSU. Get familiar with him. He’s legit.”
Fellow Jets beat member Connor Hughes agreed. “Here’s Christian Watson running routes on air. He’s a big dude. 6-5. Fast, too, per @ConnorJRogers. That’s all I’d need to draft him in Madden,” he joked.
Speaking of draft analyst Connor Rogers, who doubles as a Jets podcaster. He tweeted out his NFL comparison based on Watson’s frame/style: “An all around great week for Watson, reminds me a bit of Tim Patrick [Denver Broncos]. Watson SB measurements: 6’4, 211 lbs., 10″ hands, 32 6/8 arms. Patrick pro day: 6’4, 208 lbs, 9 1/2″ hands, 33 5/8 arms, ran a 4.47 forty and 6.99 cone. Think Watson will test well for his size.”
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Stock Continues to Rise
The North Dakota State product was not projected to be a top prospect by any means. As we mentioned above, he was a potential day three pick up until a week or two ago.
That comes with playing for NDSU, the home of Carson Wentz and Trey Lance. The Missouri Valley powerhouse has not produced an NFL wide receiver since 1985, according to Oliver Hodgkinson of Pro Football Network.
The analyst scouted: “When you’re that [6-foot-5, 208 pound] build, there’s a natural assumption about your qualities as a receiver. Watson shatters those preconceptions. The NDSU WR is a ludicrous speed merchant for his size. He has an official 4.44 40-yard dash time from high school, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him replicate or beat that comfortably during official testing. Watson decimates coverage with his ability to breeze past opponents with ease. Furthermore, Watson accelerates quickly, ensuring he can gain separation at all three levels of the field rather than just in the deep third.”
In an article titled, “Watson Won’t Be 2022 NFL Draft Sleeper Much Longer,” Ryan Fowler of The Draft Network noted that he heard some compare the prospect to Hall of Famer Randy Moss.
Fowler wrote: “A unique blazer for his size, Watson is able to win a multitude of ways and was utilized as such within the Bison offense that averaged a tick over 35 points per game. Flexed out primarily as the X receiver in the high-flying NDSU offense, what makes Watson such an intriguing talent as a pro—especially with his athletic profile—is the number of ways he can provide an impact. A vertically imposing threat where all 22 eyes are drawn to him solely for his mold and makeup, Watson’s speed and ability to glide past secondary defenders is a trait unseen from many of today’s pros with a build similar to that of the redshirt senior.”
The analyst added that Watson was a tremendous returner in college, and also worked in touches out of the backfield as a runner or the slot as a receiver.
In 2021, Watson accumulated 801 yards receiving, 114 rushing, and 227 as a returner with eight total touchdowns in 12 games played.