A lot of us speculated the Tampa Bay Buccaneer would likely target a wide receiver in the NFL Draft. Likely a late pick with a focus on speed and special teams ability.
When Justin Watson was selected in the fifth-round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it wasn’t the position which surprised people a bit, it was the player.
Many had to turn to google just to figure out who he was. The Ivy League receiver who was productive to say the least was a virtual unknown outside of draft experts and the scouts themselves.
We all came to learn his story. Call him underrated if you want, Watson simply wasn’t recruited heavily leaving high school. Some Division I college programs eventually came calling, but by that time he had already committed to Penn.
Good news for Penn and good news for fans is he’s loyal. He stayed with the school he promised his services to and had a great career.
His production stood out. So much so he was being projected as a day three draft prospect. No green room invite or NFL Network specials surrounding him, but still, he was going to have a shot to make it as a pro wide receiver.
He beat the odds. I don’t know what the ratio is, but it’s not often players make it to the NFL where he came from. There’s even fewer who come in and have a successful career.
Watson was an underdog to say the least, but he made it.
Now, he’s an underdog again. He’s coming into camp having missed way more of the pre-camp festivities to expect much.
Injuries happen. And players don’t usually choose to have them. They’d rather be out there playing and showing coaches what they can do. In a recent interview, Chris Godwin spoke about how he’s trying to help the rookie get acclimated to the life of a professional football player.
He’ll need all the help he can get. Coach Koetter commented on the depth at receiver and Watson’s situation as well,
“We have a good group at wideout. Those first four guys are really good. They complement each other well. I think our second level guys, Freddie Martino and Bobo Wilson have really upped their games. That gets you to six. I would have liked to have seen Justin Watson. He’s going to have a lot of catching up to do come fall camp.”
Those aren’t exactly encouraging words. Koetter is right. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a solid stable of wide receivers.
Too many to expect Watson to be able to catch up and even surpass some of his teammates.
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Camp is five weeks away and Watson will get his chance if he can heal enough to come back. Bad news is, he’s going to be an underdog again. Good news is, he’s already overcome tall odds to get to this point.