Before I delve into what the Eagles might be thinking for rounds 2 and 3 tonight, I want to discuss more about Watkins. You generally learn more about a draft pick the day after the decision to take him.
In Watkins, the Eagles have a man who is ready to play against men. They don't have a 22-year-old kid who needs to grow up. They have a 26-year-old man who is physically and mentally prepared to challenge for playing time. They have a player with no wear and tear on his body since he has played only four years of football.
They have a mauler, a physical presence who also has athletic ability to play on the edge in a high-level conference in the NCAA. Watkins can play anywhere along the line, although it's likely the Eagles will look at him first at guard.
Now, there is speculation that the Eagles are going to insert Watkins at left guard and move Todd Herremans to right tackle. Maybe, but I don't think so. I know that new line coach Howard Mudd hasn't even had the chance to eyeball his players yet. He is a long ways away from determining a starting five. He wants to find out what he has. That's the first priority.
Watkins brings with him a nasty, physical disposition and style of player. The Eagles need that, don't they? They have the flash and dash with Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. They need more toughness up front. They need to be more physical.
They need to know that they can line up and run the football successfully in any situation, particularly in the red zone and in short-yardage spots. Maybe they see Watkins as the integral piece here. The Eagles need to be better from guard to guard -- heck, they need to be better from tackle to tackle. They need to be dominating up front. Just OK is not enough. Vick needs to have a steady, stable pocket and the running must be more consistent and reliable.
Those who wonder about Watkins' age ... I just don't get it. He'll be 27 this season. All of a sudden people are worried that he will only play five, six, seven seasons in the NFL? OK, let's hope he makes the Pro Bowl six years in a row and *then *we'll talk about his age. If he plays seven seasons instead of 11 seasons, does it really matter?
And as for the Eagles backing off of him after he turns 30, that is just a myth that continues to perpetrate itself. This team has signed plenty of players to contracts after the age of 30 -- Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins, David Akers, Troy Vincent, Jon Runyan and so on -- and they have continued to have good success. It's a matter of projecting where a player will be in two or three seasons, not a magical age. Statistically, yes, running backs and even wide receivers and some other key positions where speed is a huge factor decline after 30.
Not offensive linemen.
I see a starting group that looks like this when the team gets together for the post-draft mini-camp in a couple of weeks (if, indeed there is a post-draft mini-camp): Jason Peters, left tackle; Herremans, left guard; Jamaal Jackson, center; Watkins right guard and Winston Justice right tackle (if his knee allows him to practice). I think Jackson and Mike McGlynn will battle for the starting center job. I remember long ago being told that McGlynn was probably a better center than a guard at this level, but I don't know how Mudd feels about him.
At right tackle, I think King Dunlap is going to challenge. Big time. Long arms, good punch, excellent feet. He gained a lot of experience and confidence last year. Austin Howard, the second-year player who has terrific athletic ability, is also going to be a factor here.
But I also wouldn't rule out the Eagles adding more to the offensive line. Which brings us to what they could do tonight ...
- I don't think the Eagles need to get real fancy here. Maybe they trade up and get a player here and there, but I think it's important to stick to the idea of becoming more physical, adding talent and improving from the inside out -- that is, if the Eagles take another offensive lineman or bring in a defensive lineman, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.
- Definitely going to watch to see if teams like Arizona, San Francisco, Seattle and even Washington take a quarterback tonight. I there is going to be a market for conversations involving quarterback Kevin Kolb when free agency opens -- don't know when that will be quite yet -- and the more teams in need of a quarterback, the better that is for the Eagles
- Several Eagles veterans reported to the NovaCare Complex on Friday before news (apparently a premature report) that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted a temporary stay of the injunction and reinstated the work stoppage, including quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy, Justice and Howard, tight end Brent Celek, tight end John Nalbone, long snapper Jon Dorenbos, wide receiver Jason Avant and defensive end Darryl Tapp. There was nothing formal for the players to do -- per league rules -- so it was mostly a chance for the players to say hello and work out on their own.
- Spoke to Dallas Morning News reporter Rick Gosselin earlier today and he absolutely raved about Watkins in every respect -- his play on the field, his maturity, his leadership in the locker room, how he conducts himself off the field. I haven't heard these kinds of no-doubt-about-it-raves about a draft pick in many, many years. Not one analyst thinks poorly of Watkins as a player. I'm about as excited as can be about an offensive guard.
- A wish list for tonight? Apparently, Da'Quan Bowers has a big, red X on him. If the young man's knee is as bad as people say it is, well, how far will Bowers slide?
- Nine more draft picks and I'm going to say at least six of them are going to be used on defensive players.