Gearing up to head into the 2022 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers still have huge questions left to be answered at the wide receiver position.
While everyone has their eyes on the top pass catchers in this year’s class, two options the Packers should consider reaching for early in the draft are North Dakota State’s Christian Watson and Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce.
The Case for Christian Watson
Christian Watson is an absolute freak of nature coming into this year’s draft and is one of the best overall athletes at the position. It’s no surprise that many top minds around the league are infatuated with the 6’4, 208-pound, speedster.
After running the sixth-fastest 40-yard dash time among wide receivers at the NFL Combine, Watson is exactly what the Packers’ offense should be looking for to replace Marquez Valdes-Scantling and could join his father, Tazim Wajed, in becoming a member of the Green Bay Packers.
There are however faults and blemishes in Watson’s game making him a gamble to land in the first-round, mainly being the fluidness in his routes and the number of drops he had in college (16). The other caveat in Watson’s game is whether or not his college production will be able to immediately translate in the NFL after coming out of the FCS level.
Watson is currently projected as the 45th-ranked prospect according to Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent Top-50 prospect ranking on NFL Network. That projection likely places Watson as a borderline first-round selection or early second-round selection.
Armed with picks 53 and 59 in the second round, Green Bay will surely be well out of reach to select Watson on Day 2. The question then becomes: Will Gutekunst value Watson highly enough to select him with either the 22 selection or the 28 selection in the first-round?
The Case for Alec Pierce
Alec Pierce could be another option Green Bay considers in the draft to help fill the void on offense left by Davante Adams and Valdes-Scantling. Pierce plays extremely well to his size at 6’3, 211-pounds by outmuscling defenders to make contested catches despite creating a lack of separation.
“Pierce was a mismatch as a deep-ball target at Cincinnati,” Lance Zierlein, a draft analyst for the NFL, said. “He plays a physical brand of ball and has combat-catch toughness, which is important because he’s not an elusive route runner.”
At 21-years-old with a 9.82 RAS entering the draft, Pierce certainly fits the bill having both the physical and athletic traits coveted by Gutekunst. On top of that, Pierce is coming into the draft as one of the best run-blocking wide receivers in the class, which is a skillset head coach Matt LaFleur values very highly out of his wide receivers.
However, after putting on a show at the NFL combine (recording a 4.41-second 40-yard dash, 10’8″ broad jump, and 40.5″ vertical), Pierce skyrocketed his stock into becoming a potential second-round selection.
Making a move for Pierce in the first-round would certainly be a far-fetched reach for the Packers but, armed with two selections in the second-round, Pierce could easily be a prospect worth considering on the second day of the draft. Even if Green Bay has to move up the board to do so.
History has shown that Green Bay has a certain fondness for drafting wide receivers in the second-round given that Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Adams were all former second-round selections. With his current stock on the rise, Pierce could become the next player to join that list.——————
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.