Doub’s Competes in Watson’s Shadow

No doubt about it, Christian Watson is the darling of the Green Bay Packers 2022 draft. The second round pick gets most all of the media and fan attention. The Green and Gold faithfully desperately want him to be the latest heir of a legacy of great receivers that includes Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams.

Romeo Doubs gets little, if any, such attention. It’s understandable. He was a day three selection, taken in round four. He played at Nevada, in the low profile Mountain West conference, against West coast schools that are largely unfamiliar to Packer fans. Nobody hyped him among receiver candidates leading up to the draft. In the CHTV draft guide, Watson is ranked as the second best receiver prospect in the class. Doubs barely made the top twenty, ranked at number nineteen.

So why did Pro Football Focus recently name Doubs as being among the top six players taken on day three who are “in the best position to produce in year one”? Maybe it’s because he led all of college football in what is classified as “deep receiving touchdowns” in 2020 and 2021 combined. He caught fifteen of them, defined as a pass that is thrown twenty yards or more. Last season, Nevada quarterbacks threw the ball deep to Doubs 25 times. He caught 12 of them for an average of 37 yards per grab. His former offensive coordinator, Matt Mumme, is quoted as saying Doubs is “one of the best deep ball trackers I’ve ever seen.”

It didn’t take long for that talent to reveal itself in Green Bay. At a rookie mini camp practice, Doubs caught three long balls and immediately caught the eye of the coaches. His long bomb skills are particularly noteworthy considering he does not have blazing speed. The Packers clocked him “somewhere in the 4.5’s” according to General Manager Brian Gutekunst. Afterward Doubs said “It’s not just being fast, but making sure that you know the technique of just running a deep pattern, whether it’s a deep post up the middle, running a go ball, making sure you stack (defender), making sure you master the technique and fundamental work.” (from Packer Central)

Remind you or anyone? Isn’t that the mantra that Davante Adams always operated under? He’s not so much fast as he is technique sound. I’m not comparing the two. I’m just pointing out Doubs is ahead of the game because he hasn’t spent his college career just relying on his natural talent to get open and catch the football. He’s already learned that technique is everything. That will serve him well at this level.

Another reason Packer fans are excited about Christian Watson is the possibility of his returning kicks. Here as well, Doubs should get commensurate attention. As a freshman, the very first time he touched a football in his first game, he returned a punt 80 yards for a score.

Watching his highlight reel, there aren’t many boxes he doesn’t check. He makes sharp cuts to get wide open deep. When he is defended, he catches the ball in a crowd, using his six foot-two body to shield smaller defensive backs. He runs the shorter possession routes nicely, showing great control of his feet on the sideline. He knows how to come back to his quarterback when the play breaks down. He keeps the ball away from his body. Many of his catches struck me as being Allen Lazard-like.

Like Watson, Doubs did not, for the most part, play against top level competition in college. But the opposition he did line up against, he dominated. He was first team all conference, led the league in TD catches, was second in yards per catch. In one game against Fresno State he caught 19 passes for 203 yards. Pro scouts judged him good enough to be invited to the Senior Bowl.

Lance Zierlein of nfl.com wrote that Doubs’ biggest drawback is that he is a linear runner who will struggle to break free of press coverage at the NFL level. That would seem to be a common challenge for any rookie receiver. Marquez Valdes-Scantling had that same difficulty at first but improved enough to get a nice second contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Indications at mini camp are that Doubs is a quick study.

I have a good feeling about this guy. It will not surprise me a bit if he outperforms Christian Watson this year.

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