Christian Watson is amidst a three-week tear that would yield 68 receptions, 1,502 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns over 17 games, i.e. a full regular-season slate. That’s Preposterous, with a capital P.
And of course, not realistic – Watson, after all, had 10 catches for 88 yards over his first six NFL games.
But that doesn’t lessen the amaze-factor of what Green Bay’s rookie wide receiver has accomplished.
Rather … is accomplishing. Watson leads all rookie pass-catchers with six touchdown grabs this season. His 16.0 yards per reception is tops among first-year players with more than 15 targets. In the last three games alone, Watson has more receiving TDs than stars such as Mike Evans, Tee Higgins, Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and D.K. Metcalf do through the first 12 weeks of the 2022 campaign.
The sprint to stardom for Watson, the 34th overall selection in last spring’s draft, started Nov. 13 when he emerged with four catches, 107 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay’s OT win vs. the Cowboys.
His breakout was verified Thursday night in Week 11 against the Titans, when he added another two scores. On Sunday, Watson took a pass on a slant from Packers backup QB Jordan Love and outran a pair of Eagles defenders, who initially had an angle on the 6-foot-5, 200-pound wideout, for a 63-yard TD.
Watson’s expeditious ascent has been wonderful to watch – for Green Bay’s fans clearly, but also its front office, which gambled and shipped two second-round picks (Nos. 53, 59) to division rival Minnesota in order to move up and draft the tantalizing big-play threat out of FCS powerhouse North Dakota State.
Watson starred at the NFL scouting combine, completing the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and posting a vertical leap of 38.5 inches – both top-six marks among 30+ wide receivers who went through said drills.
But he was far from a sure thing.
Watson had problems dropping passes in college, a concern realized Week 1 when a perfectly-placed bomb from Aaron Rodgers slipped through the hands of the 23-year-old WR on the Packers’ first play.
(Note: Drops still are hurting Watson’s production – he has five in nine games. His 18.5% drop rate is the worst among WRs who’ve seen 30+ targets by a wide margin. Next closest: Buffalo’s Gabe Davis (13.2%)).
Believers in Watson’s traits translating to the NFL liked Green Bay’s aggressiveness in the draft. Doubters conversely labeled the Packers foolish for passing on available players like George Pickens, Alec Pierce and Skyy Moore – three WRs with special skills of their own who produced at larger college programs.
This year’s crop of rookie wide receivers is looking elite. The first to fly off the board, Drake London, leads Atlanta’s receiving corps with 41 receptions. The next two selected, Ohio State teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, are top dogs on the Jets and Saints, pacing their clubs with 628 and 822 yards.
There are a couple others, including Washington’s Jahan Dotson and Tennessee’s Treylon Burks – and even Watson’s teammate Romeo Doubs, a fourth-rounder from Nevada – who’ve had shining moments.
Yet here we are. Twelve weeks down. Suddenly convinced that Watson has the best potential of them all.
Going back to 1950, there’ve been 121 players with a receiving TD streak of 3+ games in their first season, Watson included. The longest such stretch of games (7) belongs to Hall of Fame WR Randy Moss.
The only active streak – and the only such run in 2022 – belongs to Watson.
Watson also is one of just 18 on that list to tally 6+ touchdowns – and one of three all-time to do it in three games, joining suspended Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (2018) and Bears Super Bowl champ Willie Gault (1983). Seven players had more than six TDs during their streaks, with Moss again the leader (11).
To give Watson’s feat perspective, we’ve charted the 32 pass catchers who’ve gone streaking since 2010
|Amon-Ra St. Brown||DET||2021||4||4|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||NYG||2014||4||7|