Watson’s time – 4.36 seconds in a 40-yard dash while standing 6-foot-4 1/8 in the Scouting Combine was also impressive.
Another thing that impressed Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur about the team’s selection for the second round.
He’s big, fast, physical,” LaFleur said after enlisting. “One thing I really liked is, when I watched him get banned, I think that says a lot about the player. His desire, especially in this position, because we all know these guys, they want to get out there, they want to get the big plays. But what are they willing to do? To do for their teammates? I watched one of his blocking reels, which isn’t the most exciting reels when you’re talking about wide receivers, but just to see the effort he put in that side of the game.”
North Dakota State has racked up nine FCS National Championships in 11 seasons thanks to its strong running game power. Bison managed football with 72.5 percent of his attacking shots in 2021. With 17.1 passes attempts per game, there weren’t many chances for Watson to shine as a receiver. Where he had to make his mark, especially early in his career, was a blocker.
“A big part of what we’re doing in our attack here at NDSU is we’re going to run football,” said Randy Hedberg, Bison’s assistant manager/passing coordinator/quarterback coach. “The thing that was so impressive for Christian was that he didn’t necessarily think he had to score 60, 70 balls a season.
Go to follow
“He wanted to win. I think that’s the thing that stood out a lot with Christian. When you watch his tape, you see a guy who’s going to block hard from every game. That’s how our recipients should do it because what we do offensively is going to be a running game. I think Christian. He agreed to it.”
The Packers wouldn’t be better without Davante Adams. Not even close. He is one of the greatest recipients of that era. But Adams would earn $28 million a season from the raiders for assists, not blocking cornerbacks to assist running back Josh Jacobs. And Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst didn’t ship both of his Minnesota second-round picks to pick an athlete interference in the No. 9 jersey. However, with Allen Lazard and Watson on the periphery, Green Bay’s running could be better than ever.
“I just try to make as much of an impact as possible,” Watson said during the junior junior camp. “If it’s in the running game, I’m excited to do it. I think it’s an area that I can definitely grow, but I think there’s a willingness to go out there and put my body to the test for my teammates and make those blocks. I’m definitely excited.”
Receivers that can block are receivers that make great plays. Lazard guide. The 225 pound pestle is about a tenth of a second slower at 40 than Watson’s. His speed is sneaky rather than amazing. However, in passes thrown more than 20 yards into the field last season, he captured 5 of 10 for 157 yards and two touchdowns. In 2020, he captured 6 of 11 for 270 yards, including touchdowns in a playoff in victory over the Rams.
Side shafts tend to stand up to impact against large physical receivers that thirst for blocking. Racers preparing for impact have difficulty covering the flight path.
That was true of the North Dakota offense, and it was true of the Packers offense.
“Obviously blocking in a running game helps you catch deep balls,” said Hedberg grieving. “That thing he was very good at was getting down to the court and picking up some balls. He knew that these blocks would tire people out eventually and he would be able to open behind the lockers. The big throws from our attack would come from play. Rarely do we make big throws from the touchdown. Throws would be work. He knew it was only a matter of time and in the end he was about to open up.”
Too early planning for a list of 53 men
in 2): Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love.
Out (2): Kurt Pinkert and Danny Ettling.
Watch out for: Ettling, if only because he is the new face and his interest in college football is more than Pinkert.
Early view: There’s no reason to keep three quarterbacks on the roster and it’s hard to see which team would be willing to trade for Love.
Pictured: Aaron Rodgers (USA Today Sports Images)
turn their backs
in 3): Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Patrick Taylor.
Out (3): Kaelen Hill (PUP), BJ Baylor, Tyler Judson.
Watch out for: Baylor led the Pac-12 in rushing in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, 57 missed tackles forced 227 serves compared to 38 missed tackles on 256 passes by Judson. Then again, Goodson had 31 assists with one drop compared to Baylor’s eight assists and two drops.
Early view: Hill suffered a ruptured ACL in Arizona on October 28. If he’s not ready, who will number 3 be back? Taylor may have changed the trajectory of his career during the Week 18 game in Detroit, when he rushed 11 times for 53 yards and one touchdown.
Pictured: Patrick Taylor (USA Today Sports Images)
In (7): Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amary Rodgers, Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, Romeo Dobbs, Samori Toure.
Out (5): Joan Winfrey, Taylor Owner, Chris Blair, Rico Gaford, Danny Davis.
Watch out for: An ankle injury ruined Blair’s chances of competing for a place on the roster last summer, but the Packers considered him enough to keep him on the coaching staff for most of the season.
Early view: Watkins, the fourth pick for the 2014 draft and the only veteran addition to a group sent reeling by the Adams trade, is not a lock to create the roster. Beginner development will have a role in determining whether Watkins is simply Devin Funchess 2.0.
Pictured: Chris Blair (USA Today Sports Images)
in (4): Robert Tonian, Mercedes Lewis, Tyler Davis, Josiah DeGuara.
Out (3): Dominic Daphne, Alice Mack and Eli Wolf.
Watch out for: Davis played 111 shots last season. “I think we might have something in there,” Gutkunst said while only getting four passes. Mack, a seventh-round pick by Saints in 2019, didn’t play in an NFL game but looked good in the rookie camp.
Early view: Tonian suffered a rupture in the AFC Champions League in Arizona on October 28. If he’s not ready for the first week, he should be soon so I think he’ll be at the Opening 53. It’s a quality group of players who really need to get Tonian back in shape for 2020.
Pictured: Tyler Davis (USA Today Sports Images)
in (8): LT David Bakhtiari, LG John Runyan, C. Josh Myers, RJ Royce Newman, RT Yosh Nijman, T/J Sean Ryan, OL Zack Tom, T. Rashid Walker.
out (8): G/T Elgton Jenkins (PUP), C Jake Hanson, C Michal Menet, C Cole Schneider, G George Moore, T Jahmir Johnson, T Caleb Jones, G/T Cole Van Lanen.
Watch out for: Schneider had been a rookie for four years in Central Florida and wouldn’t let his bag as a senior. Could it be Lucas Patrick 2.0 as an unpolished freelancer who found a home as a versatile indoor entrepreneur?
Early view: The Packers took nine blockers into the regular season last year, but the versatility of Rhyan (in guarding and interfering) and Tom (in all five positions) could allow players to save a spot on the roster elsewhere. Jenkins suffered a ruptured ACL on November 21.
Pictured: Elgton Jenkins (USA Today Sports Images)
line of defense
in (5): Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Devonty White, Garan Reed, TJ Slaton.
Out: (4) Jonathan Ford, Jack Heflin, Akial Byers, Hawati Pututao.
Watch out for: It was just a junior camp. There was no live competition in the trenches. But the 26-year-old Pututao showed his strength by pushing some young offensive linemen.
Early view: The additions of veteran Reed and junior White have changed the face of the line of defence. This has the potential of being a really solid unit to join in with excellent beginners in other positions.
Pictured: Kenny Clark (USA Today Sports Images)
in (6): Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jonathan Garvin, Kingsley Inagbari, Randy Ramsay, Teva Galli.
Out (3): Ladarius Hamilton, Kobe Jones, Chauncey Mannack.
Watch out for: As a Year Six player, Mannack scored 10.5 sacks and 14.5 saves for Louisiana losses in 2021.
Early view: Enagbare tested horribly at the Scouting Combine (and even worse on Pro Day) but looked athletic enough at rookie camp. If you want to overreact to a novice camper, the Enagbare could be a big steal. Ramsey, who missed last season with an ankle injury, and Gali both need to be assets on special teams.
Pictured: Kingsley Enagbare (USA Today Sports Images)
in (5): De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie, Ellis Brooks,
Out (3): Ty Summers, Successor Price, Ray Welburn.
Watch out for: Brooks, a productive rookie at Penn State, went without drafting but showed some real potential during rookie camp. His instincts seem to be fine and he has a reputation for being a hitter.
Early view: At the top of the depth chart, Campbell and Walker could be cool together. At the bottom of the depth chart, McDuffie, Summers and youngsters Brooks and Wellborn will compete for the last one or two spots.
Pictured: Kwai Walker (USA Today Sports Images)
in (6): Jair Alexander, Douglas Messenger, Eric Stokes, Shemar Jean Charles, Kessian Nixon, TBA.
Out (3): Cabion Into, Rally Texada, Quunder Thomas.
Watch out for: It appears that Ento has been in Green Bay for a decade now. Uncertified free agent in 2019, he spent 2019 in the coaching team, 2020 in the injured reserve and 2021 in the coaching team. A former recipient, his athletic style has come to prominence on a number of occasions.
Early view: Perhaps Jean-Charles or one of the other young players is ahead. But, as now, depth is fraught with danger. Beginning with Josh Jackson’s trade with the Giants for Isaac Yadom during training camp last summer, Jotkunst has tried and again tried to find the right depth. This may be the recipe again.
Pictured: Capion Into (USA Today Sports Images)
in (4): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Tariq Carpenter, Sean Davis.
Out (3): Vernon Scott, Ines Gaines, Trey Sterling.
Watch out for: Gaines had a great story last summer, having gone from DoorDash to dashing to the list. He lost to Scott for a place on the roster, but Scott spent his second season in the NFL with his ass glued to the bench.
Early view: The starting duo is massive. depth? Doubtful, at best. Carpenter, a seventh-rounder, has the tools. Davis was a fifth-round pick by Indianapolis in 2021 who played in one game for the Packers. Like last year, if Packers want to use Savage in the slot, they must have a player qualified to step in safely.
Pictured: Ennis Gaines (USA Today Sports Images)
in 3): K Mason Crosby, P Pat O’Donnell, L.S. Steven Wirtel.
Out (2): JJ Molson, Dominic Eberle.
Watch out for: Whoever the packers sign up to challenge Wirtel.
Early view: Eberle has experience with new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and boasts a strong leg, but Crosby is the favorite to keep his job after a bad season.
Pictured: Mason Crosby (USA Today Sports Images)