Assessing the Watkins situation
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Assessing the Watkins situation
Sheil Kapadia, Philly.com
The wait is over.
Eagles first-round pick Danny Watkins will make his first career start Sunday against the Bills, according to Geoff Mosher of The Wilmington News-Journal.
Watkins, the 23rd selection in April's draft, has been inactive in three of four games. But that will reportedly change when he replaces Kyle DeVan as the Eagles look to win their first game since the opener.
As I wrote in Man Up on Tuesday, DeVan really struggled in the second half of Sunday's loss to the 49ers, although he wasn't alone. The line as a whole did not play well and had trouble with San Francisco's talented front seven.
Overall, DeVan has had ups and downs in four games, which was to be expected. His best game was probably Week 2 against the Falcons, but he has been the Eagles' most inconsistent lineman.
Having said that, the move comes as a bit of a surprise, only because we have no idea if Watkins is ready.
How much can a guy improve during the week if he's not playing on Sundays? We'll find out the answer to that question soon enough.
After holding out during the start of training camp, Watkins took over as the starting right guard, but struggled in the preseason. Given that he turns 27 in November, I was one of many who assumed Watkins would be on the field right away.
But that didn't happen. And while the shortened offseason was a factor, Watkins is in the minority when you compare him to first-round picks around the league.
I took a look at snap counts from Pro Football Focus. Here's a chart of how much each first-round pick has played so far this season:
|2||Von Miller||LB||Broncos|| 245
|4||A.J. Green||WR||Bengals|| 247
|5||Patrick Peterson||CB||Cardinals|| 226
What stands out here? At first glance, it looks like Watkins has company. Ponder, Fairley, Amukamara, Baldwin and J. Smith have also seen no action this season.
But there's a catch. Ponder is a quarterback playing behind Donovan McNabb, so his situation is different. And the other four guys haven't been on the field because of injuries. In other words, Watkins is the only healthy, non-quarterback who hasn't played at all.
There were seven other offensive linemen taken in the first round: Tyron Smith, Mike Pouncey, Nate Solder, Anthony Castonzo, James Carpenter, Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod.
Six of them - Smith, Pouncey, Solder, Castonzo, Carpenter and Carimi - have all started when healthy. Watkins has company in Sherrod, who was the final pick in the first round. He was in contention for a starting spot but has only been active for one of the Packers' four games.
Within the NFC East, Tyron Smith is reportedly making a name for himself in Dallas. And Ryan Kerrigan was named rookie of the month in September. He has 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and a touchdown in four games with the Redskins. Amukamara, meanwhile, has been sidelined with an injury.
In other words, other teams are not using the lockout or the shortened offseason as an excuse for their first-round picks not being on the field. Just last week, we saw 49ers rookie Aldon Smith give the Eagles all kinds of problems with 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits.
Watkins has been waiting. He was given a chance to win the starting job in the preseason, but couldn't hold on to it. Now he gets another shot.