The Eagles spent their first round pick on a 27 year old interior offensive lineman from Canada. Initially the response was fairly negative from the Eagles faithful but as they learn more about this late comer to football they are changing their tune and the organization is extremely happy to have 6’3″, 310lb Danny Watkins. Despite not having played the game long Watkins played at a high level, dominating actually, at Baylor and his toughness, intelligence, strength, power, and athtleticism give him the makings of an elite offensive lineman. On top of that, his age is a bit misleading. He has significantly less wear and tear than one would normally see on a offensive lineman his age.
The Birds also seemed to signal the end of the David Akers era in Philly. The Eagles have relied on the consistency of Akers leg for a long, long time, but he’s getting long in the tooth and there were signs that his time was just about up with the Eagles before the selection of Alex Henery in round 4. The Eagles didn’t make the Nebraska stand out the first pick in the draft to sit him on the bench. Barring an unforeseen development, Akers will be forced out in Philly.
Additional draft picks that could see the field in 2011 include; Dion Lewis (5’7″, 197), running back, University of Pittsburgh and Julian Vandervelde (6’2″, 301), Offensive Guard, University of Iowa.
WINNERS: Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. The Eagles ran 57% of their rushing plays between the tackles and the Eagles interior offensive line play has been suspect. LeSean McCoy and crew ranked No. 1 in the league in open field yards but getting there was sometimes a challenge. Philadelphia rushers were stuffed 17% of the time according to FootballOutsiders.com. That’s not awful, good enough in fact to rank them as the 10th best in that category, but as anyone who watched Eagles games will attest the interior of the offensive line has been lacking since Jamaal Jackson’s knee injury.
Danny Watkins should make an immediate impact. Mike Mayock’s No. 2 ranked interior lineman from the 2011 draft is plays with a nasty streak that will help him fit in nicely with the Eagles line and new position coach . He’s not only going to contribute to the success of the running game but will lend his ample mass to keeping Michael Vick upright and healthy. The Eagles surrendered 34 sacks in 2010 (tied for 14th in league) but it would have been much worse if not the elusiveness of Micheal Vick. This big Canuck is going to be good for Vick’s health.
Loser: Kevin Kolb and David Akers. There were a lot of quarterbacks taken in the first two rounds of the draft. If not for the lockout things would have surely played out a little differently. The Eagles would have had the ability to shop – and probably trade – Kolb. Instead, teams that would have had been highly interested in Kolb had to opt for a rookie in order to address the position. Now the options are limited. We think the Eagles back up will ultimately be the starting signal caller for the Cardinals but if they go for the more affordable Kyle Orton there is a chance that Kolb will see his chance at being a starter in 2011 disappear.
We already covered the addition of Alex Henery and the likelihood that Akers is out in Philly. The Eagles consistently rank among the league leaders in field goal attempts, partially because of well publicized ineffectivness in punching the ball into the end zone from the redzone. Akers will find a starting job elsewhere but it’s unlikely to be as equal to the opportunity he had as the Bird’s place kicker.
Neutral: Jerome Harrison. As for now Harrison is a free agent and some have speculated that the addition of Pitt rookie Dion Lewis makes Harrison expendable. We beg to differ. Harrison should be resigned and he should be the the handcuff for LeSean McCoy, at least for one more year while Lewis gets up to speed.