There’s no doubt that the selection of Danny Watkins with the 23rd pick in the 2011 draft raised some immediate questions.
But those questions had less to do with Watkins’ ability than the pure logic of drafting a 26-year-old guard in the first round.
After two unimpressive seasons with the Eagles, the franchise is letting Watkins go and essentially admitting its mistake. We’ll hear from Howie Roseman later today, but I thought it’d be interesting to take a look back at what people said about Watkins back when the Eagles selected him.
Again, scouts, analysts and personnel people seemed to be pretty high on Watkins’ natural ability when he came out of Baylor.
From Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
A self-described “glorified goon” when he was growing up playing hockey in Kelowna, British Columbia. Turned to fire-fighting at 16 and went to Butte (Calif.) Junior College. After being asked to walk on for football, he started two years at LT and then two more at LT for Bears. “He’s not as good an athlete as Sitton but he’s like him,” one scout said. “He’s a tough son of a (expletive) now.” Spent Senior Bowl at guard and, given his height, figures to play there. At least one team is eyeing him for center. “Big, powerful guy,” said [Colts vice chairman] Bill Polian. “I’m sure he’s a starter.” One drawback is his age. He will turn 27 on Nov. 6. “You can talk yourself into not taking him because he is older,” [Bucs GM Mark] Dominik said. “At the same time, he doesn’t have as much normal wear and tear at that age.” More than smart enough. “In terms of pure guard talent, goll-ee, he’s awfully exciting,” another scout said. “Very good natural anchor.”
From Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News:
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.
From Mike Mayock of NFL Network, via the Daily News:
“I put the tape on and he jumped out at me,” Mayock said. “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. ”
From ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr.:
The selection of Watkins surprised some people, as he may have been available even into the early second round, but they may believe he has the capability to stay at tackle. I think he’s a guard.
From CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang:
The Eagles’ selection of a 26-year-old guard with the No. 23 overall pick will be criticized by some, though certainly not by me. Danny Watkins stepped in immediately for former No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith (Rams) at left tackle in 2009 for Baylor, demonstrating great toughness and competitive fire despite it being only his third season of playing the game. What was most impressive, however, was how quickly he acclimated inside at guard at the Senior Bowl despite having never played the position. He’ll provide toughness inside for Philadelphia.
From SI.com’s Peter King:
The good — Danny Watkins is a day-one starter, mature and experienced, and can play either guard and, in a pinch, tackle, where he played last year at Baylor. The bad — He’ll be a 27-year-old rookie this fall.
From ESPN.com’s Todd McShay, via McNabbOrKolb.com:
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.