With rookies scheduled to report to training camp this Friday, the Packers finally capped off their rookie contract signings today, inking North Dakota State second-round pick Christian Watson, according to Field Yates of ESPN. The 23-year-old wraps up an 11-person rookie class selected by Green Bay this past April.
Watson entered the day as the second-highest draft pick yet to sign their rookie contact as the 34th overall selection of the 2022 NFL Draft. With Watson’s signing today, eight second-round picks still remain unsigned, with all first-round picks securely under contract.
Watson committed to North Dakota State as a two-star recruit, according to 247Sports composite ranking, and redshirted through the 2017 season. He played a small role as a redshirt freshman, too, as he grew from his lanky 6’2″, 175 lb. frame into the athletic 6’5″, 205 lb. frame that got him on the field. Watson began to solidify his starting role as a redshirt sophomore catching 34 passes for 732 yards and 6 touchdowns in 16 games. That’s an average yards per reception of 21.53. He continued to improve on that number in the ten games of the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, catching 19 balls for 442 yards and a touchdown for an average yards per catch of 23.26. In his final 12 games in 2021, Watson recorded 43 receptions for 801 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Watson brings an alluring combination of size and speed to the league. After running a 4.36 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, Watson confirmed that he could continue to be a deep-ball wide receiver in addition to a red-zone threat. The size can limit Watson in short and intermediate routes as it takes a bit more effort for him to slow and change direction, but he had just started polishing his route-running in his redshirt senior year and should have plenty of room for improvement. Watson also contributed to the Bison offense in the run and return game, adding to the possible effectiveness he can provide as a rookie.
After Green Bay lost star wide receiver Davante Adams in free agency, along with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, Watson will likely be expected to step into a starting position right away. The Packers were able to hold onto free agent Allen Lazard and bring in Sammy Watkins, who will both likely start alongside Watson in 2022. They also drafted Doubs and Toure (listed below) who can help contribute as the Packers attempt to retool the wide receiving corps for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Round 1: No. 22 Quay Walker, LB (Georgia) (signed)
Round 1: No. 28 Devonte Wyatt, DT (Georgia) (signed)
Round 2: No. 34 Christian Watson, WR (North Dakota State) (signed)
Round 3: No. 92 Sean Rhyan, OL (UCLA) (signed)
Round 4: No. 132 Romeo Doubs, WR (Nevada) (signed)
Round 4: No. 140 Zach Tom, OL (Wake Forest) (signed)
Round 5: No. 179 Kingsley Enagbare, DE (South Carolina) (signed)
Round 7: No. 228 Tariq Carpenter, DB (Georgia Tech) (signed)
Round 7: No. 234 Jonathan Ford, DT (Miami (FL)) (signed)
Round 7: No. 249 Rasheed Walker, OL (Penn State) (signed)
Round 7: No. 258 Samori Toure, WR (Nebraska) (signed)