Wake-Up Call: Coaches Remain High On Watkins

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Much of the attention paid to Jaylen Watkins faded as the draft gave way to OTAs and minicamp.

The more that was learned about the Florida product after he was selected in the fourth round by the Eagles, the more expectations grew. A team captain who ran a 4.41 40 on a bad wheel that can play safety and corner? Some wondered if he could make a push for playing time from the jump.


Like many of  his fellow rookies, though, the Florida product found himself working with the third team for most of the spring. Any thoughts of him skyrocketing up the depth chart were put on hold as he began negotiating the steep NFL learning curve.

While he may not have captured the headlines or flashed as much as, say, fellow corner Nolan Carroll this spring, the coaching staff remains optimistic that Watkins can have an impact in 2014 -- though there is still plenty of work to be done.

"Obviously a very, very talented young man. He has great ball skills. [In early June] he made an unbelievable interception -- probably one of the best interceptions that we had during the OTA program,"  said assistant defensive backs coach Todd Lyght. "He's still learning to work at the professional level. I think he needs to learn how to push himself out of his comfort zone. There will be times where he is cruising a little bit. I think mentally he thinks that he is working really hard but he still needs to push himself a little bit more. But he'll grow into that because it's difficult to come from the collegiate level and just get it right away. It takes some time but I think he's a smart enough player where he'll pick up everything really fast."

Howie Roseman likened Watkins to Brandon Boykin back in May, noting that both would have had higher stock had they not been injured during the lead-up to the draft. Watkins was nursing a bad ankle at the combine and still ran a blazing 40-time. Chip Kelly referenced Boykin as well when discussing Watkins' potential role on special teams.

"Running 4.41, that's what you need from a gunner position. That's why guys like Boykin are so successful out there because they have that speed element," said Kelly. "Not only can they get off the jam but they can get down the field.

"I know Coach [Dave] Fipp was excited about him as a 'teams' player, being a gunner, being able to cover kickoffs. He'll factor into that part of the game as well."

Special teams is the way in. Acquiring a primary role on defense seems like a rather difficult feat. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are the projected starters outside, Boykin mans the inside and Carroll is fighting for the primary reserve spot.

The Eagles would like to implement some more dime coverage this year, however, and Watkins could be a piece to that puzzle. Given that Watkins has the versatility to play a hybrid role, he could be called upon in certain subpackages. The coaching staff continues to see this as a real possibility.

"I see him being a major contributor on special teams and playing a role on the defensive side of the ball this year," said Lyght.

Work towards that goal begins in earnest in just 17 days.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Josh does a great job exploring Bryan Braman's difficult journey that led him to Philadelphia. 

Will Connor Barwin be used more as a pass-rusher this season? We take a look. 

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

The Eagles were one of 11 teams in attendance to watch defensive lineman LaKendrick Ross work out Monday. Ross is eligible for the 2014 supplemental draft, which will be held this month. From PFT:

According to Lansky, Ross measured in at 6-foot-4 and 366 pounds on Monday...

Ross played just the 2012 season of college football at Virginia-Lynchburg before being ruled ineligible for 2013, his agent told PFT. He was slated to begin his collegiate career at Morgan State in 2011, but he never played for the school, according to Lansky.

Jamey Eisenberg of CBS Sports looks at the Eagles' receiver situation from a fantasy perspective.

In two of the previous three seasons, Maclin was the best receiver for the Eagles, finishing with more Fantasy points than Jackson in 2010 -- he was No. 12 that year -- and 2012. He should be back on top this year. Cooper will start opposite Maclin, but he should struggle to repeat his stat line of 47 catches, 835 yards and eight touchdowns. Maclin has never had more than 70 catches or 965 yards in a season, but he could best those marks this year. And he once scored 10 touchdowns in 2010, with 22 touchdowns from 2010-11, so he knows how to find the end zone. Don't think that Maclin is going to replace Jackson as a deep threat, but he's a good route runner and receiver, which should help Foles. He's a sleeper on Draft Day, and he's someone I plan to target as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues.

COMING UP

We'll take a look at what the national media is saying about the Eagles.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • DirtyWaters

    I wonder if the Miami Herald will ever have the same headline.

    • Maggie

      Why would it?

      • DirtyWaters

        Look no further than your avatar. Danny Boy!

  • NickS1

    LaKendrick Ross is so big that he’s a defensive lineman twice over.

    • Eagles1018

      Bringing in Beau Allen and now looking at this guy it gives the perception they’re not as high on Logan as they’ve claimed to be. I know you need depth but still.

      • Tikkit

        Maybe, but CK showed a real commitment to looking at any potential prospects. It might just be doing due diligence.

        • travis papa

          I agree. I think chip sees no real reason to overlook any prospect at anytime if they fit the mold. Doesn’t hurt to have a background folder on everyone just in case. Different realm altogether but think of chip as the j. Edgar Hoover of football HCs.

          • Johnny Domino

            Not a great reference for a single guy.

          • travis papa

            Haha I’m not going to judge. What people do in their private lives is their business.

          • Maggie

            I can NOT see Chip in a pretty dress. Although some 4″ heels might put him on eye-level with the DBs!

          • travis papa

            Just to be clear my comment was not intended to go down this path

        • Maggie

          It’s odd. The Cowboys (gack) were doing early computer models and digital measurable in the early 70′s. I wonder what happened? Gil Brandt left and Jerry Jones showed up?
          Hmm. Must be.

      • BuddyBall

        On the contrary, if they were really that concerned with Logan, they probably would have allocated more resources than a 7th round pick on finding a replacement.

        • Amar

          We didn’t pick any O-Lineman with the 7th round pick, that means something too.

    • DirtyWaters

      Cut McManus some slack. He also has to run Emerald City at Oswald State Penitentary.

      • TMcManus247

        Good “Oz” reference. Fixed.

        • NickS1

          It sounded better when you had him as a defensive lineman defensive lineman. Just really emphasized the point.

          • Johnny Domino

            Is that 2 gaps or 4 gaps?

          • NickS1

            Sounds like Ross can 4gap

        • Maggie

          Ease on down.

      • Eagles1018

        Adabissi was the baddest bad ass on tv at that time. Miss that show. DVD box set here I come!

      • Johnny Domino

        I saw the Plasmatics there, great show. IIRC Wendy took a shotgun to a TV or something like that.
        http://www.amoeba.com/sized-images/max/800/600/uploads/merch/Plasmatics-poster.JPG

        • Brian Zee

          Sounds about right.

  • mtn_green

    His game tape is good. There is an inherent risk if drafting players that were injured at the combine.

  • Dominik

    “He’s still learning to work at the professional
    level. I think he needs to learn how to push himself out of his comfort
    zone. There will be times where he is cruising a little bit. I think
    mentally he thinks that he is working really hard but he still needs to
    push himself a little bit more.

    Am I the only one who is a bit worried after hearing that? If you translate coaches speak out of it, it seems like he hasn’t a good work ethic.

    Doesn’t fit to all the after-draft reports about him, but I understand Lyght that way.

    • NickS1

      I can see where you’re coming from. I just look at it like he hasn’t figured out how to really break-through as opposed to a knock on his work ethic. Like, he’s comfortable doing what he’s always done and not one to deviate much. To me, that’s where it’s on the coaches to show him how to break out of that comfort zone to take the next steps, be it new techniques or minor tweaks to his current style. Which, from all accounts, seems to be what this staff is good out. So let’s see just how good this Todd Lyght is.

    • mksp

      I don’t see it as a work ethic thing – I think its a “focus on being perfect in your technique (and work on techniques that may be new to you) on every play and not rely on your superior athleticism during practice thing” – i.e. good coaching.

      By all accounts he is a good, smart kid, so would be surprised if these were “effort” concerns in the classic sense.

      • Dominik

        By all accounts he is a good, smart kid, so would be surprised if these were “effort” concerns in the classic sense.

        Yeah, all you could read about him after the draft was that he was a leader in College and very smart. What strikes me is this:

        “I think mentally he thinks that he is working really hard but he still needs to push himself a little bit more.”

        It could be awkwardly worded, like Jofrey suggests, but it could also mean that he thinks he puts in enough work, but it isn’t enough work in the NFL.

        Maybe one day with Saint Jordan could seal the deal. :D

    • JosephR2225

      I thought about that when I read it, but I read it more as a “rookie growing pains” thing and not a real work ethic problem. Honestly I think if it was a real problem they were concerned about, they probably wouldn’t have said anything.

      • dnabrice

        Or drafted him in the first place. Though he will see first hand what the hard work amounts to after hanging with his brother a few times…$$$$$$$

    • JofreyRice

      kind of sounded a little like that, but it could have just been awkwardly worded. Or maybe Watkins was just a little out of his comfort zone because of just arriving to the team, etc. Worst case scenario, he was a 4th rounder, can’t expect the world.

      • cliff henny

        unless it’s Barkley. spent all my negative mental juju on geno smith, never even crossedmy mind to worry about Barkley. could be worse, have johnny 8-ball sulking (and grinding his teeth) on the sidelines.

    • Kev_H

      I’ve read similar comments about other guys, sometimes about themselves after they “get it”. The NFL is just a huge jump in terms of preparation compared to college. Guys have to reevaluate what total effort means.

      • Yes_General

        Well said

    • reb

      Actually, I was thinking along similar possible lines. I wonder, though, if there’s a high correlation here. We want the most physically and football-y (word?) talented players, but those are the guys that in pee-wee, high school and college probably stood out without really even having to work that hard. I know a lot of them do learn to work hard, but if everyone is fawning all over you when you’re 12 years old because it’s clear you have massive football talent, then you can skate through and not really work as hard as you should. Does it become a sort of “entitlement” rather than a “work my butt off to excel at my job/career?” Maybe. So maybe it isn’t such a big deal; maybe he’s just one of the majority of players who have to make an adjustment and learn to work hard and will be fine. Since they invested in the guy, we can only hope.

      • Dominik

        For an example of that phenomenon, google ‘Michael Vick’ oder ‘Cam Newton’. ;)

        I don’t know if you can have that feeling of entitlement when you’re a 4th round pick. Obviously, you’re good, because you got drafted, but there are many football players out there 32 teams valued way more. And since there are only 53 roster spots per team, you better work your butt off if you’re a 4th rounder, because no one will hand anything to you, especially in a year or two.

        But I see your line of argument, no doubt. There has to be an inherent desire to be great, because you’re better than 98 % of your teammates and opponents as a teenager if you become an NFL player.

  • Jonathan R. Henry

    Suddenly the depth of our defensive backfield doesn’t look so bad. I don’t think our corners were that bad last year. We had some injury issues, safety issues and pass rush issues.W e have the makings of a good defense, even though we may not shut people down like the 49ers or ‘hawks. If our offense continues to be tops in the league, all we need is a good defense.

    • Javi Echie

      It will also help to get some decent safety play that would allow Billy to play his corners more closer to the line of scrimmage instead of keeping them 10 yards off the receiver so they don’t give up the big play.

    • dnabrice

      Playing Dime should help our 3rd and long defense a TON this year. They just couldn’t do it last year, and it hurt them constantly.