Dynasty Prospect Scouting Report: Christian Watson
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
40-yard dash: 4.36 seconds (91st percentile)
Vertical: 38.5” (84th)
Broad: 11’4” (98th)
Short shuttle: DNP
Watson played WR and safety at H.B. Plant High School in Tampa, Florida. He didn’t post gaudy numbers (23-393-8 receiving as a senior) and was just a 2-star prospect. His only known scholarship offer came from North Dakota State. So he headed north to Fargo.
Watson took a redshirt in 2017 and finished 6th on the team in receiving yards in 2018. He emerged as QB Trey Lance’s top target in 2019, leading the Bison in all major receiving categories. The raw numbers weren’t huge for a super run-heavy offense that threw it on just 29.7% of their snaps. But Watson’s market shares were solid: 16.8% of the receptions, 25.1% of the receiving yards and 20.7% of the receiving scores. He also tacked on another 162 yards and a TD on 13 carries.
Watson’s per-game numbers tailed off a bit in a 10-game, COVID-delayed 2020 season. Lance played just 1 game that year. Watson still easily led North Dakota State in receiving yards, accounting for a big 35.8% of the team total. He also continued to contribute on the ground, with 21 carries for 116 yards.
2021 brought career highs across the board, despite Watson missing 3 games with a hamstring injury. In his 12 outings, Watson hogged 33.1% of the Bison’s receptions, 42.4% of the receiving yards and 38.9% of the receiving scores. He added a 15-114-1 rushing line and was named a Second Team All-American by the Associated Press.
Watson’s 89.5 Pro Football Focus receiving grade last year ranked 3rd among 217 FCS WRs with 50+ targets and would have been good for 9th among 251 qualifying FBS WRs.
Courtesy of FF Astronauts
Games watched - Eastern Washington, Northern Iowa, Missouri State, South Dakota
Watson was just too big and too fast for a lot of the FCS CBs he squared off against. When he gets rolling, you’re not gonna catch him.
Watson flashes the ability to high-point the ball over defenders.
But I was generally underwhelmed by his contested-catch skills. He seems to struggle tracking the ball and timing his jump.
Watson’s hands are shaky. Per Pro Football Focus, he dropped 14 of 109 catchable targets over the past 3 seasons – a 12.8% drop rate.
Watson’s straight-line speed is a weapon with the ball in his hands. This is the best play I saw from him in the 4 games I watched.
But he lacks agility and doesn’t have great vision on his carries, often running into the backs of blockers.
Watson is a bet on elite athleticism. And when I say elite, I mean ELITE. The 6’4, 208-pounder registered a 91st percentile 40 time, an 84th percentile vertical and a 98th percentile broad jump. That earned him a 9.96 Relative Athletic Score – tied for 19th highest all time at WR.
But the list of WRs with a RAS of 9.95+ is a mixed bag to say the least:
There are a couple of Hall of Famers on that list and a few more high-end producers. But there are also a ton of busts.
Now, Watson is widely expected to go in the first 2 rounds of the draft (maybe even the 1st). So let’s look at 1st- or 2nd-round WRs with a RAS of 9+.
That list looks better. But 8 of the 19 (42%) never hit 800 receiving yards in an NFL season. Only Calvin Johnson, Javon Walker, Amani Toomer, Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson and Julio Jones – 32% of the group – registered multiple 1,000-yard seasons.
Watson’s size and athleticism certainly gives him exciting upside. But it doesn’t come close to guaranteeing that he’ll hit as a pro. And, considering his production and tape vs. FCS competition, I think Watson is more likely to be Breshad Perriman than Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson or even Braylon Edwards.