Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eagles select OL Danny Watkins in first round

While many hoped the Eagles would target a cornerback with their first pick, Andy Reid just couldn't resist taking an offensive lineman. So, with the Birds 23rd pick in the first round, they took Baylor OL Danny Watkins. Given all of the issues the Eagles had along the offensive line, it's hard to blame Reid for pulling the trigger on someone who can potentially stabilize the line in front of Michael Vick.

What is most interesting about Watkins is the story of how get got to the NFL, given that he didn't start playing football until a few years ago. Growing up in Canada, Watkins was a firefighter after high school and didn't start playing football until he went to community college. He dominated immediately, then moved on to Baylor and excelled for two seasons there. At 26, while he is old for a NFL rookie, Watkins hasn't played a ton of football so he doesn't have much wear and tear on his body.

Talent-wise, Watkins looks like a great fit for the Eagles. At Baylor, Watkins played tackle, but he likely will have to move over to guard given his size (6 foot 3, 210 pounds). He is good in the running game, though the Eagles never run the ball anyway, and is willing to work his tail off to get better. The biggest knock against Watkins is his age; you do have to wonder how much upside he can possibly have if he will be 30 before his rookie contract is up.

While I would have preferred the Eagles draft a corner to help out Asante Samuel in the secondary, it's hard to find much fault in going with help along the offensive line. Given all of the issues the Eagles had last year trying to block for Vick, the team had to address their protection issues. Don't forget the Eagles also added one of the best offensive line coaches around in Howard Mudd, so Watkins should get plenty of help in his transition to the NFL.

A solid start for the Eagles on day one. With plenty of picks left to go, the Eagles will have several more opportunities to address their secondary needs plus pick up a few more linemen along the way.

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