I don’t think anybody saw this one coming. With Gabe Carimi, Jimmy Smith, and Akeem Ayers still on the board, Andy Reid threw Eagle fans yet another curveball by selecting Danny Watkins, the Baylor offensive lineman, in the first round. I still firmly believe that Jimmy Smith should have been the pick, but I believe Watkins will be a good player. After watching additional film of him this morning, I came away really impressed with his skill-set, and there’s no way he’s not one of the top five blockers on the squad.
If you still don’t know, Watkins took a very unconventional route to the NFL. Growing up in Canada, Watkins played a lot of hockey and rugby, but never set foot on the gridiron until after he was older than most of the guys who were drafted last night. At age 22, Watkins played for a community college in California, and two years later became a stud left tackle for the Baylor Bears. He played in an offense very similar to the one the Eagles run, and blocked for one of the most dangerous dual threat passers in college, Robert Griffin III. He put his name on the map in the Senior Bowl, where he was very impressive, and it’s worth noting that he surrendered one sack to Von Miller in two meetings, and that sack happened over four seconds after the snap as Griffin was scrambling. In fact, Reid cited the Texas A&M game as the film that really sold him on Watkins.
Although I believe he is capable of being a solid right tackle, it’s clear that Andy Reid plans to plug him in at right guard from day one. He will team with Jason Peters and Todd Herremans to form a very talented trio up front, with players such as Mike McGlynn, Winston Justice, Jamaal Jackson, and King Dunlap left to battle it out for the two remaining spots on the line. So, while Watkins certainly would not have been my pick, he’s a good player who fills a need. He has a high ceiling and a low floor, and will be in great hands with Howard Mudd. I do want to look ahead to rounds two and three tonight though.
I think the Eagles need to come away with a cornerback in this round, and three guys still on the board really intrigue me. The first is Texas’ Aaron Williams, who almost certainly be taken before 54, when the Eagles select. After him, I love Virginia’s Ras-I Dowling, who the Eagles have a legitimate shot at without moving up. The third player would be Louisville’s Johnny Patrick, who probably has the best shot at still being on the board. Other players to keep an eye out for are UCLA’s versatile linebacker Akeem Ayers, Clemson’s talented defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, and UCLA’s ballhawking safety Rahim Moore.