Christian Watson might not have the big school buzz and quality competition to his name, but he has two things you can’t teach: size and speed. Watson is 6’4” and while he hasn’t run an official 40 for the combine or a pro day yet, he ran a 4.44 in high school. That’s just not something you see very often from a guy his size. He projects as an early Day 3 or late Day 2 prospect in the NFL draft, but he has that special physical combination that can make him a game changer out wide.
As mentioned, Watson can straight-up run. If he gets the ball in space, he’s a threat to score. He has huge strides that eat up ground. He slots in as a boundary receiver, and can put defenses in a bind. If you play him tight at the line of scrimmage, he can run by you, but if you play off, he’s big and physical and a problem to bring down. Watson is a cushion destroyer. Even playing eight yards off, he’s able to run right by corners.
That speed is great, but you’ve got to be able to use it correctly and run more than just fades and curls. Watson still needs some work on growing his route tree, but he’s definitely gotten better through his college career. He understands how to stem his routes and work the top of his routes with rocker steps – especially on deep rhythm throws like posts or corners.
Watson excels at vertical routes and he can also snap down pretty well on comebacks or curls. Early on, he’ll definitely be a role player in the NFL. He’s not a guy you want to throw out there to be a #1 in his first year, but he is worthy of getting touches and seeing the field.
Effort and Blocking
Christian Watson definitely has some limitations, but effort isn’t one of them. He’s a plus in the blocking game and routinely hustles to be involved on plays. Due to his length and size, he’s really good at fitting onto smaller defensive backs because he can simply outreach them at the point of attack.
Then you see plays like these where he’s on the opposite side of the field and picking up multiple blocks through the play with pure effort and hustle. For a Day 2 or 3 guy, that’s huge. It’ll help get him on the field and will make him valuable on special teams.
It’s also a great display of his speed. He’s cruising behind the play here and when he sees the ballcarrier break a tackle, he’s almost 15 yards behind with about 45 yards to the endzone and he damn near catches him before he crosses the goal line. It’s a great illustration of what his speed looks like and the effort he gives.
By attacking the leverage of the defender, Watson can open himself up and create space. The problem is, his hands can be a little inconsistent. They’re mostly concentration drops and he does attack the ball in the air with his hands which are good signs. If he can start to win 50/50 balls with his size, he could be a huge downfield weapon with speed to take the top off the defense.
Limited route tree
Because of his size, Watson does have a little bit of trouble getting in and out of hard cuts. North Dakota really didn’t ask him to do a lot of that stuff or work from the slot very much, but it’s a concern and limits his route tree. It’s not the end of the world, especially when he’s working outside, though. The threat of his speed helps him create cushion and space. In turn, that mitigates the fact that he’s slower breaking down and getting out of cuts. It’s going to be harder at the next level to run guys off like that, but he does have enough tools to overcome that issue at least to a certain degree.
Watson has a role in the NFL. He has some limitations that he’ll be able to work on and try to debunk when he tests at the combine, but his size and speed are going to get him drafted. He might not have played at a big school, but he’s got big talent and he’s got high effort. In the right spot, he can be an impact player and help solidify a receiving corps in the NFL.