Christian Watson Would've Been the Perfect No. 3 Wideout For the Vikings

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After the Minnesota Vikings traded away the No. 12-overall pick and saw the Detroit Lions use it on a wide receiver in Jameson Williams, many that support the Purple and Gold wanted to see them snag a wideout early. Instead, Minnesota took Lewis Cine at No. 32 overall. When Day 2 of the draft started and the Vikings were up again at No. 34, they traded the pick away to the Green Bay Packers, who took North Dakota State wideout Christian Watson.

Watson would’ve been the perfect fit in Minnesota.

The Vikings have a solid one-two punch at wideout in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. But there’s no such thing as having too many weapons in today’s NFL. Factor in that Kirk Cousins is a quarterback who requires talent around him, and it would’ve made sense for the Vikings to take a wideout early in the 2022 draft.

Alas, they focused on the defensive side of the ball, and it’s hard to blame them — the secondary needed upgrades at numerous positions. However, it’s hard not to envision what this offense would look like if it had Watson.

North Dakota State used Watson in many different ways, even lining him up in the backfield and running plenty of jet motions. He’s the type of player who should be labeled “playmaker” instead of wide receiver. Getting the ball in his hands usually leads to good things. Now Vikings fans will have to hope that he doesn’t star in Green Bay for the next handful of years.

The Thielen-Jefferson duo is solid, and Jefferson has already blossomed into one of the best wideouts in the game. Thielen is still a star, but Father Time waits for no man.

Thielen is still producing at a high level, but he’s entering his age-31 season, and he’s missed time in two of the last three years. Sliding Watson in this year would’ve been a perfect fit because he wouldn’t have been expected to produce an 80-reception, 900-yard season immediately. Having the Thielen-Jefferson duo would’ve given the rookie more time to settle in. The talent that could’ve manifested as a result is playing in Green Bay instead.

Vikings OTAs are underway, and Chad Graff of The Athletic noticed, amongst other things, one interesting wrinkle early on with the offense: Dalvin Cook lining up at wideout in certain sets.

Another potential wrinkle for the Vikings’ offense could mean Dalvin Cook gets more involved in the passing game. In multiple formations, Cook lined up in bunch wide receiver sets. That could be something the new staff is tinkering with in May, or it could be something they plan on unveiling in a bigger fashion come Week 1.

While getting the ball in Cook’s hands is always a good idea, you know what would’ve been better? Drafting Watson as the No. 3 wideout so you don’t have to use your ultra-talented running back as a pass-catcher.

There are advantages to using Cook in various ways, and Kevin O’Connell has a good grasp of what to do and how to set Cook up. However, they could have used Watson this way early on, making the Vikings that much more lethal on offense. Scouts drooled over his combination of size and speed during the draft process.

Lance Zierlein of put it well in his condensed profile on the NDSU star.

A receiver prospect with intriguing measurables and a strong belief in the team aspect of the game, Watson possesses an alluring combination of size and speed. He showed off improved route running and catch strength in 2021. He is much more gifted than his opposition was at NDSU and needs to prove he can elevate his game against bigger, faster players at the next level. [Watson] plays hard and fast but needs to add a few more pounds and learn to impose his frame on the coverage.

Passing on Watson isn’t the end of the world for the Vikings. It doesn’t spell doom for their offense. They still have plenty of incredible talent to work with. That final piece of the puzzle often pushes things over the top and to the promised land, though. Like O’Connell’s Los Angeles Rams offense when they acquired Odell Beckham Jr., Watson could’ve taken this offense from good to great. It could have given the Vikings a trio for now and a duo in the future with the potential to be unmatched in the league. Instead, the Packers will be the ones hoping to see those benefits.

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