Hand sizes, shrimp cocktail, and how fast players can run in a straight line over 40 yards.
In case you weren’t aware, the NFL Combine is taking place in Indianapolis and it’s the time of the year when all the above, and more, is under the microscope. It’s a welcome sight for many after last year’s on-field workouts were jettisoned for on-campus pro days, and with the league doing its darndest to make sure you don’t miss a single stride, the Combine is more visible and consumable than ever before. From measurements to drills, this class has put on quite the unofficial performance—but even by official numbers, there’s been a ton of players who have draftniks rewinding the tape to see what they might have missed.
Let’s get into today’s Question of the Day...
Which player has impressed you most at the NFL Combine?
On the first night of NFL Network’s primetime coverage, the tight ends, wide receivers, and quarterbacks took to the field to kick things off, and it was just the right collection of athletes to capture my attention for the evening. With the Detroit Lions—potentially—being in the market for players at all of these positions in the draft, it became some interesting television to watch.
Things really ramped up though when an FCS wideout who turned heads at the Senior Bowl put up numbers that certainly put him in consideration for the first round of April’s NFL Draft.
North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson did things on Thursday night that put him among the all-time great performances by a college prospect when he absolutely crushed each and every part of the Combine.
Christian Watson is a WR prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.98 RAS at the Combine out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 5 out of 2557 WR from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/WGDb5WvptX #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/WoLREjmUPh— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 4, 2022
Kent Lee Platte’s Relative Athletic Score placed Watson’s workout as the fifth-best score posted by a wide receiver out of the 2,557 he has data for in his files. Standing at 6-foot-4, running a 4.36 40-yard dash, and having an 11-feet, four-inch broad jump were some numbers nobody expected from Watson, but he has officially thrown his hat in the ring as a potential first-round pick.
Seeing as the Lions are in the market for an X receiver, preferably one who has size and leaping ability—if you’re listening to new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson—Watson fits all the criteria when you turn on the tape. He’s dynamic and he’s a very willing run blocker who is committed to doing whatever he can to help the team win. One of the best quotes from the long weekend was when a reporter asked Watson about his mentality when it came to run blocking.
“At North Dakota State, obviously, we run the football a lot,” Watson said. “Whether I’m catching 10 balls a game or I’m getting 10 good blocks a game it was the same to me in the end. Whatever I can do to help my team win, and blocking was a big part of that.”
When another reporter followed up to ask him if he ever thought about leaving North Dakota State for an opportunity to go somewhere else that threw the football more, Watson drove home his point.
“I was all in,” continued Watson. “I knew that North Dakota State wasn’t going to change their program for me when I got there. I knew what North Dakota State was about. I went there to win championships, and I did just that. I wasn’t worried about catching 100 balls a year, I was worried about winning a ring a year.”