When the Saints signed Ben Watson this off-season it didn't make headlines, and maybe rightfully so. The Saints have a tight end in Jimmy Graham that you can build an offense around so they didn't bring in Watson with the expectation of him catching 80 balls. That said, I believe the Saints intend on having Watson play a significant role in the offense, enough so for me to tank him No. 22 on my list of the top 25 Saints' players of 2013.
In 2012 Watson had the misfortune of being on a Cleveland Brown's offense that didn't perform well, to put it lightly. His numbers didn't stand out, but you can't blame him since he had Brandon Weeden throwing him the ball. In the past, Watson had a reputation of dropping passes and inconsistent play despite freakish athleticism. Last year, however, Watson actually had pretty damn good hands. In 2012 Watson had 52 catchable balls and caught 49 of them, resulting in a drop rate of just 5.77. To put that in perspective, here's a table of how that compares the drop rates of several big name tight ends:
(Obviously Graham's drop rate in 2012 was inflated because of his wrist injury, but it's interesting that his 2011 drop rate was the exact same as Watson's 2012 rate. Stats acquired from Pro Football Focus's Signature Stats).
In 2011 the Saints had arguably the best set of receivers in the league to power their record-setting offense. Despite a bevy of young WR talent on this year's team, the receiving corps isn't as polished it once was now that Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson are gone. Ben Watson's combination of size and speed can still be a match up nightmare for defenders, and you know Drew Brees will find him when there's a mismatch. I'm not saying Watson will surpass 700 yards and a half dozen touchdowns, but I do believe he will be a very positive addition to the offense. Graham will put up the big numbers, but I expect Watson to make some big plays here and there, block adequately, and attract enough defensive attention to free up Graham, Marques Colston and the bunch.