Danny Watkins, Eagles number one pick. Savior to the woeful right guard spot. But at 26 years old (27 in November), Watkins is one of the oldest players to be selected in the first round ever.
Outside of his age, this looks like a solid pick by the Eagles. As I’ve written on multiple occasions, they needed help along the offensive line more than anywhere outside of perhaps cornerback. And after only four years of playing football, Watkins already has shown the talent to be a first round selection. Certainly there is a lot of potential for offensive line gurus Andy Reid and Howard Mudd to tap into. Plus, everyone praises the former fireman’s work ethic and maturity.
But of course, there is the small matter of age. Even if Watkins becomes a Pro Bowler, his upside is limited. His second contract wouldn’t come until he was over the age of 30. That’s not a deal-breaker — 44 offensive linemen over the age of 30 started at least 10 games in 2010. But it is by far the biggest downside of the selection.
Below are the scouting reports on Watkins from various draft experts and the selection they projected him to be picked in their most recent mock drafts.
Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News (#28 overall, to New England):
Watkins is the safest pick in the entire draft - the one player you can confidently say will be in the Pro Bowl in 2012. He’s the best guard on the board, and some NFL teams were looking at him as both a center and tackle. (source)
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN (#32 overall, to Green Bay):
He’s an interesting guy with his size and the versatility he provides. He’s going to continue to get better because they coach you up in the NFL. With the guard group not being particularly strong, that helps him a lot. It wouldn’t shock me if he went in the second or third round when all is said and done. (source)
Mike Mayock, NFL Network (#21 overall, to Kansas City):
I put the tape on and he jumped out at me. He’s heavy-handed [meaning Watkins ‘punches’ well], he finishes, and he’s nasty; he reminds me a lot of the [John] Moffitt kid from Wisconsin. I look at the two of them and I think they’re both interior starters. I think they’re centers or guards, and they’re starters in the league… has been coached really well… he can bend and he’s really naturally strong. He’s got what they call a 6-inch punch, and he can jar you with that 6 inches. ” (source)
Todd McShay, ESPN (#25 overall, to Seattle):
I think Danny Watkins fits in immediately as a starter and you look at his make-up: he’s a tough, physical, nasty offensive guard that’s going to upgrade this team in the run game and also help in terms of pass protection. (source)
Tommy Lawlor, Scout’s Notebook & Iggles Blitz:
Probably the most interesting prospect in the whole draft… Spent both years [at Baylor] as the starting LT. Did a solid job there, but projects inside in the NFL. Doesn’t have the athletic ability or footwork for playing OT. Looks like a natural fit at G. Watkins is a tenacious blocker. He goes to the whistle. Or the echo of the whistle. Anchors well. Able to re-set when he is initially driven back. Sinks his hips and plays with good leverage. Feet are fine for playing in a tight space (like G or C). Also has a mentality that fits well at G. Sort of a bully. Likes to find a defender and really mash on him. Uses his hands pretty well. Still raw, but seems very coachable.
Older than teams prefer, but a real good player and the kind of guy that teams love. Should go in the early 2nd round. (source)
Wes Bunting, National Football Post (#19 overall, to New York Giants):
Watkins is… a strong anchor player, moves his feet well through contact, has the ability to play both guard spots and even some right tackle. I fully expect him to come in and start at a high level from day one. It’s not the sexiest of selections, but I love the pick and think he can be one of the better guards in the NFL early in his career. (source)
Originally published at NBC Philadelphia. Photo from Getty.