2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State

Fantasy football player analysis tips and advice

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State


Christian Watson was a good receiver during his five seasons at North Dakota State, but really shot up the draft boards with an impressive Senior Bowl and then wowed again at the NFL Combine with a blazing 4.36 40-time and other intriguing measurements. He’s one of the rare big-bodied wideouts that also offers play-making speed.

Watson red-shirted during his true freshman season in 2017. His best season was the redshirt senior year when he gained 914 total yards and scored eight times. He was a kickoff returner for his final two years and ended with an eye-popping 20.7 yards average catch. Watson enters the draft with electrifying potential that will appeal to many teams, but without the lengthy resume of a high-volume receiver.

Height: 6-4
Weight: 208 pounds
40 time: 4.36 seconds

He played on a Bison team that only lost three games in his four playing seasons while winning  four NCAA Championships. North Dakota State has dominated the Missouri Valley Football Conference and didn’t need to throw many passes in the process. Past Bison’s were Trey Lance and Carson Wentz.

Also see: 2022 NFL Draft Central

Table: Christian Watson NCAA stats (2018-21)

Year School Games Catch Yards Avg. TD Runs Yards TD
2018 NDSU 7 9 165 18.6 0 0 0 0
2019 NDSU 16 34 732 24.3 6 13 162 1
2020 NDSU 10 18 437 21.5 1 21 116 0
2021 NDSU 12 43 800 18.3 7 15 114 1


  • Rare combination of size and speed
  • Produces as a rusher, receiver and a returner
  • Game-changing playmaker with  20 yards on 32% of his plays
  • Elite kick returner – Averaged 25.4 yards on his career 27 kick returns
  • Improved throughout 2021
  • Excellent body control
  • Quick feet that can defeat press coverage at line
  • Large catch radius – wins 50/50 balls
  • Homerun speed on any deep pass
  • Big enough to run through tackles
  • Elite stop-and-go acceleration


  • Still very raw – only 104 career receptions
  • Hasn’t always used his size to his advantage
  • Had problems with drops but improved
  • Needs more work on timing

Fantasy outlook

Watson didn’t have the volume of catches like so many other rookie wideouts that are expected to early picks, but his size and speed, coupled with good showings in the Senior Bowl and at the NFL Combine have him expected to go as a late first-round or early second-round pick. That has him available to any team needing an upgrade to their receivers, especially an outside receiver.

Watson has the measurables that NFL teams love in a split end, but his progress in the NFL will depend greatly on the quality of the offense that he joins.  His ability to return kicks is very likely to be relied on as a rookie and that will get him onto the field while his receiving game develops.

The telling part of his draft is if he does go in the second half of the first round, which will indicate a team’s interest in a Year 1 starter and the higher-rated offenses typically are picking late in that round. Had Watson gone to a more prominent college and turned in far higher receptions, he’d be considered an even earlier pick in the first round. But he’s being taken well ahead of where his production level usually dictates because of his favorable measurables and the fact that he was a master of the chunk play whenever he did get the ball into his hands.

Chances are that he won’t reach his peak for several years in the NFL, and even then he could remain more of a returner and deep-ball specialist. But in the right offense, with a top quarterback, his ceiling may end up very high.


More Huddle