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Reid: Watkins Was Our Guy All Along

Posted Apr 28, 2011

How did the notoriously unpredictable Eagles manage to surprise the football universe when everyone expected them to either trade up or down for the fifth consecutive year? By staying in their spot at No. 23 overall and addressing an immediate need in the form Danny Watkins, the 26-year-old Baylor offensive lineman who has only been playing football for four years.

Watkins, a former firefighter who only started playing football at Butte College in California, where he was enrolled in a program to further his firefighting career, played left tackle for two seasons at Baylor but profiles as a plug-and-play guard. He impressed in his initial transition to the interior line at the Senior Bowl and he now joins an offensive line that is expected to wave goodbye to Max Jean-Gilles, Nick Cole and Reggie Wells in free agency.

"There have been a lot of things said about Danny's age and so on, but we felt Danny was as good a football player as there was in the draft," said Andy Reid. "It's not a glamour position, but it's a position that is very crucial in this sport and we wanted to make sure that we maintained a strong offensive line. We've lost a few veteran offensive linemen over the last couple years and we wanted to make sure that we continued to build that line to be the strongest in the National Football League, and this is a step forward."

Watkins, of course, will be charged with protecting one of the more dynamic weapons in the league in Michael Vick. And the expectation is that Watkins can come to Philadelphia and join the starting lineup immediately.

"I think he's capable of doing that," Reid said. "I think this guy is physically ready to go.

"Right now I'm looking at guard. I don't know what side though; I can't sit here and tell you. I'm looking at him as a guard. He can really play any position you need him to play."

Reid said that Watkins was the team's target all along, and that even with players like Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and California defensive end Cameron Jordan sliding down in the draft, the Eagles were never seriously tempted to trade up. The message was clear - Watkins was the Eagles' guy.

"We had this guy targeted and we were hoping that he was going to be there," said Reid. "If we got a feeling other than that, we would have gone up and snagged him. We really liked him.

"He had great film against (Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft) and played a heck of a game against him. That was just one of many great games, it just happened to be one of the better players in the draft. What you see is a heck of a player both in the pass game and the run game. I can't tell you how happy we are to have him be a part of our program here."

As for the curious nature of Watkins' age - he will turn 27 during the 2011 season - Reid said that it's a unique situation. Because Watkins spent his youth playing rugby and hockey, he doesn't have the kind of wear and tear incurred by most players his age.

"You see with the offensive line, you see guys play into their 30's because they take care of themselves," Reid said. "This is a guy that not only takes care of himself, but he's not beat up like you see a lot of offensive and defensive linemen, that happens throughout their career. You're getting a fresher 26-, 27-year-old."

The final piece of the puzzle is that Reid expects Watkins to endear himself very quickly to the hard-nosed Philadelphia faithful.

"He'll bring a toughness, which I know the city of Philadelphia, they thrive on," said Reid. "He brings a toughness and blue-collar attitude to that offensive line."

Full Watkins Scouting Report

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