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Where Does ‘Total Package’ Watson Rank Among Rookie Receivers?

There have been some star receivers, including Jordy Nelson, taken in the vicinity of Christian Watson's spot at No. 34 overall.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – There have been great expectations heaped upon Green Bay Packers rookie receiver Christian Watson.

With the trade of Davante Adams and the departure of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, there is a hole of almost 2,000 passing yards to replace from last season. Watson, selected 34th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft at the cost of two second-round picks, will be asked to fill some of that void this season and become the Packers’ next great second-round receiver.

FanDuel Sportsbook has over/under totals on receiving yards for seven rookie receivers. That includes five of the six first-round receivers (Detroit’s Jameson Williams, coming off a torn ACL, being the exception), and two second-rounders (Skyy Moore, with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, being the other).

Of those seven, Watson’s over/under of 649.5 receiving yards ranks sixth.

“He has the total package,” veteran receiver Randall Cobb said this week. “Just being around him for the past week and seeing some of the things he can do, he has all the tools. He’s very gifted. It’s about applying it, taking the stuff he learns in the classroom and taking it to the field.”

Over the previous decade of drafts, 18 receivers were selected between No. 28 and No. 40. That’s six spots on each side of Watson’s slot at No. 34. According to Stathead,, five players topped 550 receiving yards as rookies: Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin (1,008 yards), Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins (908), San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel (802), Denver’s Courtland Sutton (704) and the Giants’ Sterling Shepard (683).

On the other hand, eight fell short of 400 yards as rookies. Of those, five couldn’t even hit a measly 200 yards: San Francisco’s A.J. Jenkins (0 yards), New England’s N’Keal Harry (105), the Jets’ Devin Smith (115), Carolina’s Curtis Samuel (115) and the Rams’ Brian Quick (156).

Overall, in 76 total seasons, those players have produced five 1,000-yard seasons, led by Samuel’s prodigious 1,405 yards last year, and six seasons of 70-plus catches, led by Indianapolis’ Michael Pittman’s 88 last year.

The Packers obviously are looking for Watson to be nearer the Jordy Nelson’s spectrum. The 36th pick of the 2008 draft, Nelson had four seasons that topped 1,250 yards and three seasons of 13-plus touchdowns. Receivers taken from No. 28 to No. 40 over the previous 14 drafts combined to play 128 seasons. Nelson produced four of the five biggest seasons in terms of yards and four of the 12 seasons of 1,000-plus yards.

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It took time, though. Nelson had 33 receptions for 366 yards as a rookie and only 22 receptions for 320 yards during his second season. It wasn’t until Year 4 when Nelson became a star.

“He has the tools. It’s about refining those tools,” Cobb said of Watson. “It takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight. That’s what I was trying to tell him on our ride up earlier today – it’s a process. Just enjoy the process and have fun with it, don’t get so caught up in your head and press and think that it’s going to happen overnight. Because it never does.”

Rookie Receiver Over/Unders for Receiving Yards

From FanDuel Sportsbook:

Treylon Burks, Titans, No. 18 pick: 825.5 yards.

Drake London, Falcons, No. 8 pick: 770.5 yards.

Garrett Wilson, Jets, No. 10 pick: 748.5 yards.

Chris Olave, Saints, No. 11 pick: 735.5 yards.

Skyy Moore, Chiefs, No. 54 pick: 700.5 yards.

Christian Watson, Packers, No. 34 pick, 649.5 yards.

Jahan Dotson, Commanders, No. 16, pick, 605.5 yards.

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