Plant High alumnus Christian Watson was among the three Tampa natives taken on Day 2 of the NFL draft Friday.
Watson was the first Hillsborough County product off the board after the Packers traded up to snag him in the second round at No. 34 overall, 19 years after they drafted his father, Tim, in the sixth round out of Howard. His dad never played a regular-season game for Green Bay in his four-year NFL career.
“Incredible,” said his brother, Tre, a linebacker in the CFL.
Watson was a late bloomer in high school, which explains why his only scholarship offer was to North Dakota State. He starred for the Bison, where he won four Football Championship Subdivision national titles and caught 105 career passes for 2,140 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-4, 208-pound Watson wasn’t in the top tier of one of the best receiving classes of the modern era but did earn some first-round buzz heading into this week.
“He’s freaking fast,” Packers director of football operations Milt Hendrickson told reporters.
Watson will be expected to be an immediate contributor for the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The NFL Network had an interesting, fitting player comparison for Watson: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who played at Lakewood High and USF before catching passes from Rodgers in Green Bay.
Berkeley Prep alumnus Nicholas Petit-Frere went to the Titans with the fifth pick of the third round (No. 69 overall). Petit-Frere lived up to his five-star billing by becoming an all-Big Ten offensive lineman at Ohio State. He started 19 games for the Buckeyes over his final two seasons, seeing time at left and right tackle.
With the No. 95 overall pick, the Bengals took Zachary Carter, a former Gators standout and Hillsborough High alumnus. The 6-foot-4, 282-pound defensive lineman was the area’s top recruit in the 2017 class and can play on the interior or on the edge.
He recorded 107 tackles (28 for a loss) across his 46 college games. Carter will reunite with former Florida teammate Evan McPherson, Cincinnati’s star kicker.
Carter was the only player from a state college drafted Friday, though there were other notable tie-ins. First-year Gators cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond had a second player drafted this year when LSU defensive back Cordale Flott went to the Giants at No. 81 overall. Flott is the 16th draft pick Raymond developed at LSU — an encouraging sign of what he can do in Gainesville.
One of Florida State coach Mike Norvell’s former Memphis players, Dylan Parham, was selected at No. 90 by the Raiders. Parham was a high school tight end/linebacker and two-star recruit whom Norvell evaluated and signed. Parham grew into a four-year starter on the offensive line.
The Panthers traded up to No. 94 to take quarterback Matt Corral, a one-time UF commit who instead went to Mississippi.
Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.
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