Christian Watson To Patriots? What Analyst, Odds Say About Possibility

It would be a bit of a surprise


April 22, 2022

The Patriots, you might have heard by now, have taken a receiver in the first round of the NFL draft just once in Bill Belichick’s tenure. You also probably know that hasn’t worked very well, so any thought of New England going wideout in the first next week should be met with healthy skepticism.

Belichick and the Patriots are still smarting over the decision to make N’Keal Harry a first-round pick in 2019. It’s not just the fact Harry has failed to reach expectations of a first-round pick. It stings, even more, considering Deebo Samuel went four picks later, and A.J. Brown went 19 picks later (with a disappointing Joejuan Williams Patriots selection mixed in).

The track record when it comes to drafting receivers in Foxboro, in any round really, isn’t great. However, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay mentioned the Patriots as a possibility at No. 21 for a relatively unheralded receiver in next week’s draft: North Dakota State’s Christian Watson.

Calling Watson unheralded might not be the right word, as he’d probably generate even more buzz coming out of a big-time program. That he’s still getting the buzz he has out of North Dakota State, though, tells you just how good he can be.

In a recent mailbag, McShay admitted it’s unlikely Watson goes before No. 22 to the Packers, but he didn’t rule it out — especially if the big names like Garrett Wilson, Drake London, Jameson Williams and Chris Olave lead to receiver FOMO and all go off the board early in the draft.

“The top tier of receivers … could be completely off the board in the top 20, and if that happens, we could see a second run on receivers starting with the Packers. Other teams to watch include the Patriots, Cardinals, Bills, Titans and Chiefs (perhaps via a trade-up).”

Watson, as McShay went on to note, isn’t a first-round lock despite “outstanding speed, size and length,” as well as an ability to show “solid body control on tape.” Right now, it’s a virtual coin flip in the betting market as to whether Roger Goodell will call Watson’s name Thursday night.

DraftKings Sportsbook currently lists Watson as -105 to be drafted in the first round. If things truly go nuts, then it gets even more interesting if and when we see receivers like Treylon Burks or Jahan Dotson sneak into the first round. DraftKings currently has the total set at 6.5 receivers in the first round with the juice on the under — for now.

This probably ends up being a moot point with the Patriots, who spent the last year retooling on the outside by signing and trading for receivers and tight ends to boost their skills position. As such, defensive back and linebacker are the “favorites” for Patriots first-round pick at DraftKings with receiver sitting at +380, down from +330 earlier in the week.

It’s also a historically deep receiver draft, so it’s certainly possible the Patriots strike that match at some point, but given their usage, it does feel unlikely it happens early on.

And even if they end up moving on from Harry, it’s not like New England doesn’t have a replacement already on the roster after trading for DeVante Parker.

We’ve seen shockers from the Patriots before, and someone with the speed and agility possessed by Watson — not to mention some of the intangibles — could be a very interesting Foxboro fit.

Thumbnail photo via Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports Images

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