GREEN BAY, Wis. – It’s not a receiver in the first round, but for the Green Bay Packers it’s the second best thing.
In fact, the second best thing.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, who ran the team’s streak of not drafting a receiver in the first round to 20 years on Thursday, did not wait long to make a move on Friday. He sent both of his second-round picks (Nos. 53 and 59) to rival Minnesota Vikings for the 34th overall pick to take on North Dakota State receiver Christian Watson.
Watson was the seventh receiver in the draft, and the first on Day 2.
Watson became the most recent winner in the second round drafted by the Packers, joining the likes of Davante Adams (No. 53 overall in 2014), Randall Cobb (No. 64 in 2011) and Jordy Nelson (No. 36 in 2008). ) – all of them were the favorite goals of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“We’ve had great success with receivers in the second and third rounds in Green Bay,” Rodgers said Thursday night on Pat McAfee’s SiriusXM and YouTube show after the Packers did not take a receiver in the first round. “You’re watching Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones in the third round [in 2007], apparently Davante Adams in the second round. Those guys were pretty good. “
Now Watson just needs to figure out how to jell with Rodgers, something that has previously taken time for young recipients.
“I want to say I’m ready to work,” Watson said when asked what he would tell Rodgers when they meet. “I’m ready to learn and I’m ready to come after it. I know he will be tough on me and that’s exactly what I want. I want someone who will continue to push me to to be the best possible player I can be and I know that with him as one of the greatest, he will get everything out of me, so shoot, I will tell him I’m ready to work and shoot, I’m ready to go. “
Watson’s father, Tim, was a sixth-round pick of the Packers in 1993 as a safety. While his father never played for the Packers, he had brief stays with the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, who totaled 13 games from 1993 to 1997.
When asked if his father still has any Packers equipment, Watson said, “I definitely think he has. It was a big achievement for him. It’s his roots, so he’s definitely sticking to it. I is sure he has a lot of green and yellow around the house to throw on when he gets home. “
The 6-foot-4, 208-pound Watson caught 43 passes for 801 yards with seven touchdowns last season for North Dakota State, which won the FCS national title. In four years for the bison, he averaged 20.4 yards per game. catch and also had two career start rebounds for touchdowns.
“His physical characteristics and his athleticism will make it much easier [to contribute immediately] from someone who is 6-foot, 185 pounds, “said Packers director of football operations Milt Hendrickson.” He just is not; he is a great man. “
This offseason, the Packers traded the Adams, who wanted out, to the Las Vegas Raiders. The 53rd election, sent to Minnesota, was part of that deal with Las Vegas, along with No. 22 overall. Green Bay also lost recipients Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown and free agency.
The Packers’ best return receiver is Allen Lazard, who had 40 catches for 513 yards and eight touchdowns last season. No other wideout currently on the Green Bay list, including newcomer Sammy Watkins, had as many as 400 yards received last season.
Green Bay did not address the receiver problem on Thursday and instead focused on defense in the first round by taking on a pair of Georgia teammates using the 22nd overall pick on linebacker Quay Walker and tackling Devonte Wyatt on No. 28.
The Packers have not picked a wide receiver in the first round since taking Florida State’s Javon Walker in 20th place in 2002.
But this is the highest the Packers have taken a receiver since the Walker election. Although Hendrickson would not say whether the Packers tried to switch back to the first round on Thursday to pick Watson, he picked up something that his old boss with the Baltimore Ravens, Ozzie Newsome, used to say.
“I spent many years in Baltimore and [Newsome] would always say, ‘A choice is just a choice until it becomes a player,’ “Hendrickson said.” And from that point of view, if you love the player, you just find a way to get him. “
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.