After filling many holes through the first four rounds of the NFL Draft, the Bucs were finally in a position to take a player where there isn’t necessarily a need.
They did that with the 144th pick taking Ivy Leaguer Justin Watson from Penn.
Watson ended his Penn career No. 1 in receptions (286), receiving yards (3,777), receiving touchdowns (33), all-purpose yards (4,116), No. 2 in total touchdowns (34) and No. 4 in scoring (208 points).
In our final 7-Round Bucs Mock, Scott Reynolds had him going to the Bucs in the 6th round. Here is what Reynolds wrote.
Watson is a real sleeper who compares favorably to Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen. Watson had 1,000-yard seasons in each of his last years at Penn, and leaves the school holding records for career receiving TDs (33), career receptions (286), career receiving yards (3,777) and all-purpose yards (4,116), and he scored a touchdown in one out of every 6.5 times he touched the ball.
Penn also set several Ivy League records with the most consecutive games with a receiving touchdown (10), most consecutive games with a catch (40), most career record for receiving yards in Ivy League games (2,675) and most career 100-yard games (19).
Watson wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but shined at his pro day where the Bucs were in attendance. Watson’s 40-yard dash times ranged from 4.39 to 4.44 and his median average of 4.42 would have tied for fifth among wide receivers that ran at the Combine. Watson’s 40-inch vertical would have been first among wide receivers in Indianapolis, and his 20 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press would have ranked tied for fourth among receivers.
Watson’s Penn Career Receiving Stats
2017: 81 catches for 1,083 yards (13.4 avg.), 14 TDs, long of 80
2016: 89 catches for 1,115 yards (12.5 avg.), 8 TDs, long of 67
2015: 74 catches for 1,082 yards (14.6 avg.), 9 TDs, long of 79
2014: 42 catches for 497 yards (11.8 avg.), 2 TDs, long of 55
Watson’s Penn Career Rushing Stats
2017: 167 carries for 854 yards (4.7 avg.), long of 21
2016: 23 carries for 133 yards (5.8 avg), long of 20
2015: 10 carries for 154 yards (15.4 avg.), 1 TD, long of 79
Watson shined at the East-West Shrine Game where he went up to the special teams coordinator and asked that he be placed on all of the special teams units, knowing that he’ll need to star on punt and kick coverage to make it in the NFL. Watson was so impressive in practices that he was an injury replacement at the Senior Bowl. He made several impressive catches in practice and had a 34-yard reception in the Senior Bowl game.
The Bucs have four wide receivers that are guaranteed to make the roster in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries, but could use another wide receiver to challenge Bobo Wilson, Freddie Martino, Devin Lucien and Jake Lampman for the fifth spot on the depth chart. Tampa Bay could use a bit more size in the receiver room as Evans is currently the only one over 6-foot-2. Quarterback Jameis Winston could use another big target with a wider catch radius, and the speedy Watson could fill that role.
On his conference call to the local media, Watson was asked who he would compare his game to.
“I think one that I compare pretty closely to is Jordy Nelson, especially early on in his career. I think athletically we are a pretty similar profile, we are both just crisp route-runners, no wasted movements. I don’t think when you look at his game or my game there’s any fancy moves at the top of my routes, at the beginning of the routes. I just run good, clean, consistent routes. I find a way to get open using my athletic ability.”