Name: Christian Watson
Position: Wide receiver
School: North Dakota State
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 208
40-yard dash: 4.36
Bench: Did not bench
Vertical: 38.5 inches
Broad: 136 inches
3-cone: Did not run
20-yard shuttle: Did not run
View photos of NFL prospect Christian Watson.
How he fits: Watson has an intriguing combination of size and speed and was one of the most explosive receivers in FCS football the past four seasons. He got an invite the Senior Bowl this offseason, and it was important for him to prove he could compete against better competition. Compete Watson did. He was arguably the top receiver down in Mobile for the week.
Watson caught 43 passes for 801 yards (18.6 average) with seven touchdowns in 12 games this past season. He also rushed 15 times for 114 yards (7.6) with a score. He averaged 22.7 yards in 10 kickoff returns. Between receptions, runs and kick returns, 32 percent of Watson's career touches gained 20-plus yards. He scored four touchdowns of 65-plus yards as a senior in 2021.
The Lions signed DJ Chark in free agency, and re-signed Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond, but there's still room to add to that group alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown and Quintez Cephus, especially for a player like Watson, whose size and speed combination is very interesting and fits what the Lions are looking to add at the position.
Key observations: Watson comes from a football family. His father was a defensive back at Howard and had a five-year NFL career (1993-97) as a safety. His brother, Tre, played linebacker at Illinois and Maryland. His uncle, Cedric, played at Marshall.
Watson earned an 89.5 receiving grade by Pro Football Focus this past season, while playing in a run-heavy offense. At the Senior Bowl, Watson finished in the top three in grading by PFF in receiver one-on-one drills.
Watson's height ranks in the 90th percentile for wide receivers in the NFL, while his 40-yard dash finished in the 92nd percentile and his broad jump in the 98th percentile.
He did record 16 drops over his college career, per PFF, which is high.
What they had to say about him: "Watson is a long, rangy wideout with excellent fluidity and explosiveness. He lined up outside and was primarily used as a vertical weapon at NDSU. He gains ground in a hurry with his long stride, and he can change speeds when the ball goes up in the air. He ran by everyone he played against last season.
"Watson showed surprisingly good route skill at the Reese's Senior Bowl in February. He was able to win with quickness off the line and showed the ability to efficiently drop his weight and burst out of the break point down the field. He has a large catch radius, too. Overall, I thought Watson was a solid vertical/stretch receiver based on his game tape, but the Senior Bowl performance showed a more well-rounded talent. He could emerge as one of the best pass-catchers in this class." – Daniel Jeremiah, NFL media analyst
View photos of the top wide receiver prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.
How he stacks up: Jeremiah lists Watson as the No. 45 prospect in his latest ranking of the Top 50 players in the draft. Jeremiah lists six receivers ahead of Watson in the rankings.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic ranks Watson at No. 10 among this year's receiver class, and the No. 61 overall prospect in his Top 100.
He comes in at No. 45 on Scout Inc.'s ranking of the top prospects. He's No. 74 on PFF's Big Board.
What he had to say: "I've been trying to grow and continue to get better at throughout this process and throughout college as well has always been my speed at the top of my routes. I'm a fast guy vertically, just being able to incorporate that into the intermediate routes as well," Watson said at the Combine of things he's trying to improve on heading in the NFL.
"Then obviously catching is something I always try to improve on as well, eliminating focus and concentration drops and just being able to make plays."