By Charlie Campbell
Summary: North Dakota State’s football program has been consistently pumping out good talent for the NFL, and Watson will keep up the school’s tradition of early-round prospects going in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Tampa, Florida product nicknamed the “Tampa Tornado,” showed big time ability for the Bison. In 2021, Watson caught 43 passes for 800 yards and seven touchdowns. He also took 15 carries for a touchdown and 114 yards. Watson showed big-play ability in 2020 – 24.3 yards per catch – and 2019 – 21.5 yards per catch. Early in the draft process, Watson lit a fire under his draft stock with an excellent week of practice at the Senior Bowl, where he had his way with the all-star cornerbacks.
For the next level, Watson is a tall, strong, and has surprising speed for a big receiver. His size makes him a red-zone weapon and will be a mismatch even in the pros. Despite being a big receiver, he has enough speed to generate separation, showing some surprising twitch for such a tall, thick frane. Watson can run well enough to challenge defenses downfield and threaten them at all levels. He is a long-strider with a second gear who can explode in the open field thanks to his sheer speed to run away from defenders. That will be diminished some in the pros, but there is no doubt that Watson has above-average speed for a big wide receiver.
With his size and speed, Watson is a dangerous yards-after-the-catch receiver, which he showed at the Senior Bowl as well. On end arounds and short receptions, Watson shows good vision and cutting ability to weave his way through the defense and then a burst to accelerate into the open field. He is dangerous red-zone threat given his length, leaping ability, and strong hands. Similarly, Watson is very tough to cover along the sideline given his size and body control.
Sources with NFL teams say they think Watson could be a high second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and even sneak into the bottom of Round 1. They feel Watson might emerge as a No. 1 receiver in the NFL and has the potential to be a very good No. 2 if he doesn’t become a No. 1.
Player Comparison: Tee Higgins There are a lot of similarities to Higgins and Watson. They are nearly identical in size, and Higgins (6-4, 215) also is a receiver who runs well despite being a big wideout with good thickness. Higgins was taken at the very top of the second round in 2020, and Watson could go in that same range this year. In the NFL, Watson could be a receiver similar to Higgins.
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