Green Bay Packers

Jaire Alexander Should Be Christian Watson's Best Friend This Summer

Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an adage about becoming the best at something and how it takes competing with the best to accomplish it.

The Green Bay Packers selected cornerback Eric Stokes in the first round last year. They immediately launched him into top-tier competition, pitting him against Davante Adams in training camp. This summer, Christian Watson should have a goal of getting used to seeing Jaire Alexander.

Last offseason, Stokes didn’t have his hand held throughout his first NFL training camp. Instead, Green Bay intentionally had him line up against Adams, who’s regarded as one of the best wide receivers in football. As the summer chugged along, Stokes’ early improvements were evident. He gained confidence and didn’t shy away from matching up with the superstar wideout.

Stokes carried that momentum into the regular season. When Alexander went down early in the year, the Packers upgraded Stokes to CB1. The former Georgia Bulldog flourished in the role. Entering Year 2 in Green Bay, they are expected to have arguably the best corner trio in the league with Alexander, Stokes, and Rasul Douglas.

Fast forward to this year’s draft class, and let’s look at who the Packers need to step up.

Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are gone, and the Packers selected Watson in the early portion of the second round. Watson will be expected to contribute early and often. While he has embraced that mindset, Watson is also being encouraged by Alexander, who just so happens to be lining up across from him on more than a few occasions this offseason.

“I’m going to make it as hard as I can for those guys because I know on Sunday it’s going to pay off. Iron sharpens iron,” Alexander said. “However I can help to make them better, I’m going to do that.”

Alexander’s attitude is perfect. He, like Adams, has catapulted himself into being one of the premier players at his position early in his career. Now he’s going for a domino effect on Watson, who will also have the added weight of some big expectations early on.

Watson is taking it in stride, per Packers.com.

“It only makes me better,” Watson said. “He’ll tell me straight up exactly why he broke on my route, exactly which indicator I gave on the route, and I know if I get open then I know it was a great route for me … It’s definitely a great experience to get to go up against him and him obviously coaching me up, even though I’m on the other side of the ball.”

Green Bay will need more than one wideout to step up in a significant role this year. While many have pegged Allen Lazard as the guy to elevate his game and see more looks, Watson shouldn’t be discounted from that grouping. Yes, he’s a rookie, and the Packers have typically brought wideouts around slowly. Still, they’ve also had the luxury of doing so with guys like Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Adams, and Randall Cobb being around for so long.

There isn’t a Nelson or Adams or Jennings on this roster. There’s a Cobb, and it is Randall, but he’s far from the version in Green Bay the first time around.

Watson should have ample opportunity to win Aaron Rodgers‘ trust this summer and have it translate to the regular-season production. The advice he’s getting from Alexander will only help.

Alexander is one of the best at his position, and while it could be a lofty goal for Watson, why not set the bar high? Adams was a second-round selection, and look how that’s panned out. Stokes hopes to level up again this year after a promising rookie season. Watson can take a page from their books as he enters the league.

One thing that is certain: Having Alexander competing with Watson one-on-one in practice will only help the young wideout from North Dakota State University. It’ll look a heck of a lot different once the regular season begins and Watson draws assignments from corners who aren’t on Alexander’s level.

Like Stokes got tutored by Adams last year, Watson is receiving some sage wisdom from Alexander. The Packers should be thrilled seeing it all unfold.

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