Buried on the depth chart throughout his rookie season, Watson now figures to compete with Perriman for the No. 3 receiver job, though the outlook could change if Tampa Bay adds a splashy signing or draft pick to its wideout group. The 2018 fifth-round pick was dominant at the FCS level and displayed first-rate athleticism at his pro day, but he played just 73 snaps on offense (one reception) and 194 on special teams as a rookie. New coach Bruce Arians presumably intends for most of the targets to go to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard.
The 2018 fifth-round pick put together an impressive college resume at Penn, but he saw minimal opportunity to prove himself at the NFL level during his rookie campaign. Watson was a healthy scratch for the first three games of the season, but he saw action in 12 of the subsequent 13 contests. However, Watson logged only single-digit snaps from scrimmage in all but one game, as his primary value came on coverage and return units. The 23-year-old should bump up at least one slot on the depth chart upon DeSean Jackson's likely release this offseason, and an exit by Adam Humphries via unrestricted free agency would exponentially increase Watson's opportunity to make a 2019 impact.
Watson logged snaps on offense for the fourth straight game, but Sunday saw him make his first career catch. The rookie has been a mainstay on special teams, and the 12 snaps from scrimmage he played against the Bengals represented a career high. Despite his participation level seeing a slight bump in Week 8, Watson remains far down the pecking order in the Buccaneers' prolific air attack.
Watson (coach's decision) is inactive for Sunday's Week 1 tilt against the Saints, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports.
Watson's status is expected to open the season, considering the Bucs will roll with the impressive quartet of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries at receiver, while also keeping the more experienced Freddie Martino active as a fifth wideout. Watson impressed during training camp and preseason, however, so he could certainly find himself suiting up at some point as the season unfolds.
The 2018 fifth-round pick had some drops in early camp practices and a fumble in the preseason opener versus the Dolphins, but he consistently made his presence felt on the stat sheet throughout the exhibition slate. Watson put a cap on a successful summer by bringing in two of three targets for 11 yards and a touchdown in Thursday's preseason finale against the Jaguars, and he'll head into the regular season as the No. 5 receiver behind the top quartet of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries.
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||0||1||5||5.0||5||0||0||0||0|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||6||6.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|