Well, the cat is out of the bag now, and the league better take notice.
You see, what was supposed to be the best-kept secret in Philadelphia has now made its way onto the mainstream.
When you discuss the Philadelphia Eagles and wide receivers, it’s easy to get caught up on the last two first-round picks. There are no questions that the hostile lights of the Philadelphia fans and media will be shining on reigning Heisman trophy winner Devonta Smith and his newly anointed partner in crime, Jalen Reagor. Which are tough shoes to fill for both players; Smith, based on his resume, is expected to step in and become the de facto WR1 of the group. While Reagor has/and always will have the ghost of Justin Jefferson’s past to look beyond.
Yet with the mantra set by both quarterback Jalen Hurts and head coach Nick Sirianni — “Rent is due.”
There seems to be a statement to be made coming out of Philadelphia; these young birds are ready to turn the chapter and set their mark on the next era of Eagles football.
This confidence, however, comes with good reason; the Eagles running back Miles Sanders may have said it best.
Miles Sanders: “My confidence is through the roof with this offensive line. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I think we can do special things with this O-line.”
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) August 30, 2021
Despite what you may hear about the lack of talent on Philadelphia’s offense when you take a closer look, the Eagles may be closer than you think. Sure we all know the questions surrounding Jalen Hurts; let’s not forget that Philadelphia started a different offensive line 14 different offensive line combinations last season. If (and that’s a massive IF) the Eagles offensive line could stay remotely healthy, that’s already a plus.
Then you have Miles Sanders, who averaged 5.79 yards per carry last season and a top-three tight end tandem across the league. Yet despite each name and position we have mentioned, it’s possible that we forgot the most explosive weapon on the Philadelphia offense.
Well, just like the initials of the NFL, Watkins plans on making our forgetfulness stand for ‘not for long”.
NFL players often make the biggest jump in performance between their 1st and 2nd season
One player who may be making that leap is Quez Watkins
The former 6th rd pick had 7 catches for 106 yards last season, but has ascended to PHI’s starting lineup and is in line for a big role
— Mike Tannenbaum (@RealTannenbaum) August 27, 2021
Quez Watkins is really fast — like 4.35 forty-yard dash time fast. This is something the Cardinals found out as Watkins burst on the scene late in the 2020 season for the Eagles.
It’s something the Steelers found out quickly during Philadelphia’s opening preseason performance.
Eagles WR Quez Watkins can flat out FLY pic.twitter.com/8l26sk2Q4y
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 13, 2021
And it’s something that all of Philadelphia is hoping the league finds out throughout the course of this season. However, Watkins is finding out that no matter how fast you are, life always comes at you faster. Just 365 days ago, Watkins was the 200th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and one of three receivers taken by the Eagles that weekend; in fact, he was the final one.
There are no expectations and a relatively low bar for a player looking to gain valuable experience in the league, let alone make an impact for Philadelphia in year one.
Yet here we stand an entire year later, where most sixth-round picks would be fighting for a roster spot; Watkins is taking first-team reps with the starters as they prepare for a week one matchup against Atlanta Falcons.
“I feel like with this being my second year; I’m just seeing everything so much clearer, you know? The defense, the playcalling; I just know my assignments.”
These changes didn’t happen overnight, though for the former Southern Mississippi product, however. In fact, there was a portion of the off-season where Watkins became the butt of route running jokes.
— Corey Dibiase (@corey_dibiase) March 22, 2021
Yet that didn’t impact the level of focus Watkins promised himself to maintain heading into his second season.
In fact, it only made his work harder:
“This whole offseason, I just made everything personal. Everything people said I couldn’t do. ‘I was only fast.’ I just made everything personal and put the work in.”
Watkins was so committed to putting in the work to become a better overall player that he went to visit a set of trainers during the off-season that allowed him to work closely with Atlanta Falcons standout wide receiver Calvin Ridley.
This Watkins said has helped him continue to make the strides in the areas of his game that the naysayers said would hold him back in the immediate future.
“We work out with the same trainers, and he’s been with them for like two years before I was there, and so he just came in, and we both started working…. ‘Really learned how to get in and out of my breaks, stay low, consistently staying low in and out of my routes, no matter what route it is. And get in and out as fast as possible. He’s one of the best route-runners in the game.”
And it seems like this hard work and effort has paid off for Watkins.
Man Quez Watkins route running looks so smooth now pic.twitter.com/RVqm2h6agP
— Jamal (@FinessedBuckets) July 8, 2021
Of course, it helps even more when your new head coach is a former wide receiver to help you on the backend as well.
“It’s a passing offense and then with Sirianni; he’s a receivers coach, so he takes details of our receivers, and he wants to feed us the ball…. It’s honestly good because you know he’s always detailing us receivers and just helping us out.”
From what we’ve seen so far in terms of both what Sirianni emphasizes getting Watkins and the rest of the receivers touches and what Watkins has been able to with his touches, it’s possible that the Eagles could have a diamond in the rough on their hands.
But then again, maybe what Jalen Hurts says is true.
Jalen Hurts says one of the downsides of the game is that Quez Watkins “is not a secret any more — that’s unfortunate.” pic.twitter.com/G8L5fAkrLP
— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherNFL) August 13, 2021
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