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McFeely: It was the Night of the Receiver at NFL Draft, but not for NDSU's Watson

With six receivers going quickly in first round it looked like good omen for ex-Bison star, but his name went uncalled

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Christian Watson catches a pass during North Dakota State’s annual football pro day at the Dacotah Field Bubble on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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It was the Night of the Wide Receiver, but not for Christian Watson.

On a night when the NFL Draft turned wild and woolly early with a flurry of trades and a record half-dozen receivers being selected in the first 18 picks, the former North Dakota State standout was not taken in the first round on Thursday night.

It's likely he'll be drafted Friday in the second round.

That is where the majority of teams that talked with Watson's agent believed he would go.

"Patience ...," Watson posted on Twitter after the first round concluded with the Minnesota Vikings taking Georgia safety Lewis Cine at 10:30 p.m.

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But for awhile, with the number of receivers going early, it looked like Watson going in the first round was inevitable.

Drake London of USC went No. 8 to the Atlanta Falcons.

Garrett Wilson of Ohio State went at No. 10 to the New York Jets.

Chris Olave of Ohio State went No. 11 to the New Orleans Saints.

Jameson Williams of Alabama went No. 12 to the Detroit Lions.

Jahan Dotson of Penn State went No. 16 to the Washington Commanders.

Treylon Burks of Arkansas went No. 18 to the Tennessee Titans.

It was the first time six receivers went in the top 20 of the draft, with two spots to spare.

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Other teams were trading for established receivers. A.J. Brown went from the Tennessee Titans to Philadelphia Eagles. Marquise Brown was dealt from the Baltimore Ravens to the Arizona Cardinals.

Next to quarterbacks, receivers are the hottest commodity in the NFL. They are highly valued. Some would say overvalued.

But Watson's name wasn't called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, even as teams that were widely believed to want receivers made picks.

The Green Bay Packers, with draft choices at Nos. 22 and 28, picked linebacker Quay Walker and defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt. Both played for Georgia.

Even after trading Davante Adams, the Packers didn't take Watson. Commentators on ESPN, including draft guru Mel Kiper, were surprised.

Aaron Rodgers probably was, too.

Kiper was lobbying for Watson whenever a team that needs receiver help was on the clock.

"I scouted his father (Tim) when he came out of Howard. I love Christian Watson," Kiper said during the network's broadcast. "You talk yards after catch. You talk versatility. I love the kid."

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The Kansas City Chiefs, with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, were also believed to be in the market for a receiver with the 30th pick. Instead, they picked edge rusher George Karlaftis from Purdue.

Mock drafts released Thursday morning by top analysts split on whether Watson would go in the first round.

Kiper and The Athletic's Dane Brugler had Watson going in the first. ESPN's Todd McShay and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah and Lance Zierlein did not.

Watson was trying to join three other Football Championship Subdivision receivers who were selected in the first round — Jerry Rice of Mississippi Valley State in 1985, Shawn Collins of Northern Arizona in 1989 and Sylvester Morris of Jackson State in 2000.

Instead he'll have to wait for Friday night to find out where he'll go.

On a wild draft day that saw nine first-round trades and six receivers go early, it turns out the intel on Watson was on the money. We were told he was going to be picked late in the first round or early in the second.

Looks like it'll be the latter.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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