Watkins, 26, is expected to slot in as the starting right guard, though he has missed five days of practice since training camp began. The former firefighter stands at 6-3, 310, and figures to be a mauler in the run game for the Eagles under new offensive line coach Howard Mudd. He's also well versed in pass protection, as he played left tackle at Baylor.
"This is a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders, that's for sure," Watkins told reporters on a conference call. "Ever since I got here a few weeks ago, I've been chimping at the bit to get in here. I understand there's a business aspect to football. It's something I've never cared for and don't know much about. I'm just glad this is over with and we can get rolling.
"I'm eager to learn. It'd be an honor and privelege to get in front of (quarterback Michael) Vick and let him work his magic. Like I said, I'm hoping and I want to come in and compete right away."
There is plenty of depth on the interior line, so Watkins will face some competition for the starting role from the likes of Mike McGlynn, A.Q. Shipley, fellow rookie Julian Vandervelde and free-agent acquisition Evan Mathis. Though he's the presumptive opening day starter, Watkins is taking nothing for granted.
"I have to come in and compete," he said. "Nothing is guaranteed that I'm going to be a starter, by any means. That's the coach's decision, not mine."
Watkins headed from Philadelphia to Bethlehem as soon as the terms of his contract were agreed upon so he could meet with Mudd and get to work as soon as possible. He plans to spend Tuesday, the players' day off, catching up on as much as he can. The good news is Watkins considers himself a quick learner.
"I've only played for four years and I felt I picked up the sport very good," he said. "I don't think I'd be where I am now if I wasn't a quick learner. I'm determined and dedicated to learn this as quick as I can and put all the hard work I can into it."
A former firefighter from Kelowna, British Columbia, Watkins did not start playing football until the age of 22 while attending Butte College in Oroville, CA, where he quickly became one of the top players in Junior College, earning first-team All-America honors in 2008. He went on to start 25 games as a left tackle at Baylor, earning first-team All-Big 12 honors as a senior in 2010. Watkins, 26, attended Mount Boucherie Secondary School in Kelowna, BC, where he played hockey and rugby prior to his time as a part-time firefighter.
Back in April, Andy Reid said of Watkins' projection to guard, "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."
Check out some of the initial reaction to the Watkins pick.