GREEN BAY – Bo Melton and Christian Watson were two of the fastest players at Bommarito Performance Center last winter, and they knew it.
While preparing for the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, the two receivers pushed one another during training sessions in Miami. The main event was the 40-yard dash, where Melton and Watson consistently produced sub-4.4-second times.
Watson often got the better of that exchange while running in the 4.2s but Melton wasn't far behind. When it came time to travel to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine, the light-hearted competition to see who would come out on top reached its apex.
The Winner? Melton, by two-hundredths of a second.
"I ran low 4.3s all training – 4.31, 4.30, 4.34, stuff like that. Christian, he ran a 4.2," Melton said. "I was catching him at first but then we got to the combine, and he ran a 4.36. I was playing around with him."
Watson was still an optimal NFL prospect given his unique combination of speed, athleticism (a combine-best 11-foot-4 broad jump) and 6-foot-4, 208-pound stature. The Packers eventually traded both of their second-round picks to move up to take the North Dakota State standout at No. 34 overall.
The 5-foot-11, 189-pound Melton also had a strong showing at the combine. He finished in the top 10 among receivers in the 40, three-cone drill (6.98 seconds) and vertical jump (38 inches) but still waited until the seventh round to be drafted by the Seahawks.
Melton led Seattle in receiving during the preseason (seven catches for 89 yards) but didn't make the final roster. He spent most of his rookie season on the team's practice squad until the Packers came calling midway through December.
By signing to Green Bay's active roster, Melton also was reunited with Watson.
"It was fun competing with him in everything we did," said Watson, who had 41 catches for 611 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie. "I thought he was a really talented receiver, so I feel like we got to grow a little bit together. We're in the same agency, as well, so we've had a lot of interaction outside of training."
Melton comes from an athletic family with deep roots at Rutgers. His father, Gary, was a running back for the Scarlet Knights while his mother, Vicky, played basketball. His younger brother, Max, is a three-year starting cornerback.
Bo had a strong run at Rutgers, too, finishing with 164 receptions for 2,011 yards and 11 touchdowns in 56 collegiate games. His speed and past experience as a flyer on special teams gained him attention from NFL scouts, including the Packers.
After meeting with the Packers last February in Indianapolis, it made sense when Green Bay called in mid-December and offered Melton a spot on its 53-man roster.
"I thought there was a chance just because of the meetings pre-draft-wise," Melton said. "When I got the call, I was like, 'OK, yeah.' I was happy because I knew what was going on before (the draft)."
It's not the first time the Packers have signed someone off another team's practice squad late in the season. In 2018, with two games remaining, the Packers plucked Allen Lazard from Jacksonville's practice squad. The 6-foot-5, 227-pound receiver caught 169 passes for 2,236 yards and 20 touchdowns in 57 games (40 starts) over the past four seasons.
In Melton, the Packers are getting a fast and elusive receiver who can run after the catch and knows how to operate in space. In Seattle, Melton felt he benefited learning from one of the league's craftiest slot receivers in Tyler Lockett and also DK Metcalf.
Once Green Bay called, Melton jumped at the opportunity.
"It was a grind," Melton said. "I was at practice going hard every day, just waiting for an opportunity that I knew was going to come soon. When the opportunity comes, seize it and rely on your talents."
While on the West Coast, Melton said he watched Watson quite a bit and was impressed by "the show" his former training partner put on as a rookie in Green Bay.
The two young receivers are excited to again push each other this offseason and possibly get to the bottom of that lingering question: Who's the faster wideout?
"He knew that I was faster than him, I knew that I was faster than him, (but) it didn't pan out that way at the combine," said Watson with a smile. "I think deep down, he still knows who's faster."