Sometimes the value of a player is measured by how much better he can make the players around him. If that's the case, former Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers should be valued very highly based on some predictions by ESPN reporters.
The Packers drafted wide receiver Christian Watson in the recent NFL draft. But he was not taken until the second round, was the seventh wide receiver taken and comes from an FCS school, North Dakota State. Those draft facts suggest Watson is a project who could flourish in perhaps his third or fourth season in the NFL -- if he ever flourishes at all.
However, when ESPN asked 12 of its pro football experts to predict the 2022 offensive rookie of the year, three of them picked Watson, which tied wide receiver Treylon Burks for the most votes.
Here's how the three experts who chose Walker explained their predictions, and, not surprisingly, Rodgers' presence figured prominently in their selections:
Dan Graziano, national NFL writer: Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers. So many wide receivers to choose from, but give me the one whose quarterback is the reigning MVP and whose unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver got traded this offseason. It's a big jump for Watson from FCS ball to the NFL, but he has the talent to make it. If he can earn Rodgers' trust early, the first-year numbers could be huge.
Stephania Bell, fantasy football analyst: Christian Watson, WR Green Bay Packers. Some believe the Packers will lean run-heavy in this Davante Adams-less offense. But if that happens, it will represent a departure from what their MVP quarterback prefers. So why not stick with the winning formula and project Watson to earn most-favored-receiver status? It's certainly possible assuming he and Aaron Rodgers develop a quick chemistry, even if it's born of necessity. Watson is tall and fast, a deep threat molded in the image of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (also no longer with the Packers), and he provides an appealing target for a guy who has thrown for over 4,000 yards in all but one of his complete seasons.
Matt Miller, NFL draft analyst: Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers. Rodgers desperately needs a new favorite target and Watson has elite speed with a 6-foot-5 frame. He is raw coming out of the run-first North Dakota State offense, but his ability to create after the catch and his mismatch size in the red zone will have him targeted often.
Do you think any expert would have predicted Watson would win offensive rookie of the year if anybody other than Rodgers was his quarterback? Maybe Patrick Mahomes, but I doubt it. Maybe Josh Allen, but I doubt it. Maybe Tom Brady, but I doubt it.
Cover photo of Aaron Rodgers by Wm. Glasheen, USA TODAY Network
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