Green Bay Packers rookie Christian Watson ended up being excellent for his team in 2022 — but it started off as an absolute nightmare after he dropped what would be an easy touchdown on the first target of his NFL career in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Watson opened up about the play in an exclusive interview with PFF's Trevor Sikkema on Wednesday.
“I knew we were going to call that play,” Watson told Sikkema. “Throughout the week we called it on multiple occasions at practice, and we were hitting on it, so the coaches told me we were going to start with that. I was hyped up. We got the perfect coverage for it seeing inside leverage. In my mind, right away I was thinking, ‘This is it, this is the start of my career.'”
It didn't at all go as planned, as the ball went right through Watson's hands for a drop. He didn't see another target from Aaron Rodgers until the fourth quarter of that game.
“It was a positive and a negative for me,” the 24-year-old continued. “I didn't take advantage of the opportunity, and I didn't have the correct mindset. I was thinking, ‘This is easy.' I lost my fundamentals. My hands were too far apart. I was fading away from the ball; I didn't have that attacking mindset. It went from the best way to start my career to one of the worst possible ways to start my career, dropping a touchdown.”
Watson bounced back in a big way after that, leading all rookie receivers in touchdowns with seven, explosive plays with 13 and trailing only Garrett Wilson in receiving yards (523 to Wilson's 582) afterwards.
He also broke the NFL rookie record for most touchdowns scored in a four-game span for a rookie WR, a record held by legendary Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss.
The North Dakota State receiver followed up a brutal start to his rookie season by overcoming adversity and turning into one of the most effective young receivers in the league.
“It went exactly how it was supposed to go,” Packers' Christian Watson said about the season. “I think I needed every bit of the trials and tribulations along the way in order to build me up, build that confidence and build that momentum…It showed me what this league was all about.”