In trading Davante Adams to the Raiders in March, the Packers created a significant void at receiver.
The No. 4 pick of the 2014 draft, Watkins spent last season with the Ravens and caught 27 passes for 394 yards with one touchdown in 13 games.
Having battled injuries throughout his career, Watkins has reached 1,000 yards just once — back in 2015. He hasn’t eclipsed 700 yards since, with his most productive season coming in 2019 with the Chiefs when he caught 52 passes for 673 yards.
Still, the Packers feel he can be a solid offensive contributor in 2022. Green Bay’s receivers coach/passing game coordinator Jason Vrable coached Watkins with Buffalo early in the receiver’s career. He said Thursday that Watkins’ maturity since then has been “exceptional.”
“He was just a young rookie before and now he’s a grown man with a family and living life the right way, and trying to do as much as he can to get back and get another Lombardi, which he’s one of the few guys who’s held one up that I’ve been around,” Vrable said, via the team’s website. “That’s his goal. Sammy is just smiling and happy to be in a building where he feels a good fit right now.”
Vrable added that he knows Watkins is going to work as hard as he can. The receiver has been a part of the voluntary offseason program, doing all the workouts.
“He feels good where his body is at,” Vrable said. “One thing you’ll see with him is he plucks the ball different. He has hands where you’ll hear the pluck and running through catch, and his play strength. There’s a reason why we drafted him that high and he’s had a lot of successful years in his career.
“He said to me, ‘Man, it’s different. I’ve been in four systems in the last four years, just getting back to what you coach. You know, Vrabs, it’s been fun hearing you coach the same stuff then as now.’ He knows the details. He’s in a good place right now and I’m really excited about him.”