Christian Watson: The Tampa Tornado

BACKGROUND 

NAME: Christian Watson 

POSITION: WR 

SCHOOL: North Dakota St. 

HEIGHT: 6’4” 

WEIGHT: 208 lbs. 

CLASS: RS Senior 

DOB: 5/12/1999 

HOMETOWN: Tampa, FL 

GAMES WATCHED: 2021 – Valparaiso, Albany, Northern Iowa, South Dakota; 2020 – Illinois State

What takes a young man over 1,500 miles away from his hometown of sunny Tampa, Florida all the way to the cold plains of Fargo, North Dakota? Loyalty. Christian Watson attended football powerhouse Plant High School in Tampa, Florida. He was a late bloomer in high school who didn’t hit his growth spurt until his junior year. He was overlooked by most schools, except for North Dakota State. They believed in him, and he rewarded that belief with a commitment to their program. Christian caught on as a high school senior and began to attract attention from several Power Five programs, but it was too late for them. He was a North Dakota State Bison. 

While playing in Fargo, Watson enjoyed incredible team success, including four FCS championships in his five years with the program. He became a three year starter as the team’s primary outside receiver. The Bison ran a run heavy scheme which would limit the number of targets he’d receive, but Watson still produced. Over his career, Watson racked up 105 receptions for 2,140 yards. He caught 14 touchdowns, but the most impressive number for him is 20.4. That’s the average yards per reception that he totaled over his time as a Bison. His big play ability had him dubbed “The Tampa Tornado”, a name he lived up to by producing 57 plays of 20+ yards throughout his college career. 

STRENGTHS 

Christian’s biggest strength is his explosiveness. He’s a threat to go yard anytime he touches the ball. Combine performance reinforced his elite speed (4.36 40-yard dash) and burst (11’4” broad jump). Impressive acceleration helps him eat up ground quickly, and gain separation from defensive backs. Tall frame, though a little lean but with room to add significant muscle mass. Size/speed combo helps him naturally fight by press coverage. Easy glider moving around the field, who is tough to bring down with the ball in his hands. Regularly makes defenders miss in the open field whether it be using his speed to eliminate angles or using his large frame to run through contact. One of the best blocking receivers in his class. Squares up his opponent well while keeping his feet moving, generating enough force to take his man out of the play. Seems to embrace the contact that comes with run blocking. Offers some versatility as a rusher who was successful on both jet sweeps and handling carries out of the backfield. Has great vision with the ball in his hands, displaying the patience to find cutback lanes when necessary. Experience returning kickoffs, averaging 26.4 yards per return and scoring 2 touchdowns.  

WEAKNESSES 

Inconsistent hands as evidenced by his 16 drops over his college career. A closer look reveals that said drops appear to be a result of inconsistent catching technique and lack of focus due to him trying to fly up field before he’s secured the ball. Fixable issue. Ran a limited route tree in college, and is still raw in that regard. Sometimes runs one speed throughout his route instead of knowing when to decelerate, sometimes causing him to be slow out of his breaks. Never had to face elite competition in college, and was always the superior athlete when compared to his opponents. Can he have the same success against tougher opposition? Torn knee cartilage resulted in multiple knee surgeries in 2019. 

TRAITS

Route Running – 50/80 

Separation – 65/80 

Ball Skills – 50/80 

Downfield Ability – 75/80 

RAC – 70/80 

Contested Catch – 55/80 

Versatility – 75/80 

Release – 60/80 

Frame – 70/80 

Blocking – 70/80 

Final Grade: 7.91 (2nd Round) 

SUMMARY 

Christian Watson projects as a starting outside receiver in any NFL scheme, though he possesses a valuable element of versatility similar to what we’ve seen from players such as Deebo Samuel and Cordarrelle Patterson. Naturally instinctive runner while carrying the ball. Will regularly threaten defenses vertically, and has enough YAC ability to break arm tackles and make chunk plays for his team. Brings an elite size/speed profile to whichever team drafts him, as further evidenced by his historic RAS score (10). There are some concerns about drops and his limited route tree, but we’ve seen players with similar questions overcome those concerns in the past. Will become a more consistent player once he cleans up some of his bad habits and is given time to develop some of the finer nuances of his game. Overall, Christian Watson is a highly talented prospect who has Pro Bowl upside. Due to a lack of polish in some areas, he graded out as a high second round prospect, but he has the type of God-given athletic talent where he could far outperform that kind of draft position. 

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