After an offseason filled with intriguing moves, the wide receiver position appears to represent the most significant improvement for the Eagles.
Adding A.J. Brown alongside DeVonta Smith should prove to be a considerable factor in any potential Jalen Hurts success. That said, the addition of new names to the WR room has likely changed the playing time situation and overall role for Quez Watkins.
The 2020 sixth-round draft pick became a more popular target last season, especially as a consistent deep threat. While he only caught one touchdown, his 15 yards per catch average on 43 receptions as a secondary option should not be ignored. Watkins has proved to be more valuable and reliable than Jalen Reagor in the deep threat and speed category. Now, he will be battling it out with former Indianapolis Colt Zach Pascal as the go-to slot receiver and backup option after Smith and Brown.
“I think Quez Watkins could have a big year,” said Bo Wulf on JAKIB Sports’ “Birds 365” earlier this week. “Think about what he brings as a home-run hitter . . . he’s very explosive.”
Poised to breakout? 👀#FlyEaglesFly | @Mronesx_ pic.twitter.com/ydK7yGhu0k
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Watkins will find himself in an interesting situation this season playing behind such playmakers as Brown and Smith. While they are going to demand a large amount of defensive attention, as is tight end Dallas Goedert, Watkins should be the beneficiary of the lower-tier coverage he will experience.
Last season’s flashes of game-changing ability by Watkins could allow him to prove to the team that he can be relied on.
Entering the offseason, the Eagles’ wide receiver room was a major question mark and it was the general consensus that looking at Watkins as the potential WR2 was not too attractive. While the offseason moves do not help his personal situation too much, there is no doubt that Watkins will still be an important element of this offense. Finding himself in the WR3 or WR4 spot might prove to be better as he can prove to be a sneaky problem for opposing defenses.
The notion that Watkins is due to have a breakout season is not unlikely.
While opposing teams will recognize that his speed is dangerous, he will likely not warrant a large focus from defenses. The playmakers around him will make his tendency to get open and surprise teams a trend as the season progresses. Watkins should find himself becoming the key factor behind experiencing success in such a talented offense.
Watkins has the potential to be a real difference maker in the offense, but he still has to beat out his main competitor, which is likely Pascal. Watkins finds himself in a favorable position as he has experience with the team and the playbook, but Pascal is a talented player. Pascal is entering his fifth season and has worked with Sirianni in Indianapolis so that coach-to-player relationship is already evident. Each receiver provides their own personal impact on the team, but the two receivers will likely be fighting over playing time all season.
Talk that talk. 🗣#FlyEaglesFly | @ZachPascal6 pic.twitter.com/DWsCqQuuKG
— JAKIB Sports (@JAKIBSports) July 8, 2022
“What Zach Pascal gives them is the ability to keep everybody fresh,” said Bo Wulf. “I like Quez Watkins, I like him much more than Zach Pascal.”
The evolution of Watkins’ playing style and productivity over his last two seasons with Philadelphia has been encouraging to watch. He has demonstrated that he can be a major factor for Hurts when opportunities appear. According to Pro Football Focus, Watkins was credited with just one drop on 61 targets, so his reliability is sky high. While he is an excellent deep ball threat, he can make an impact anywhere on the field.
Expectations heading into this season for Philadelphia are constantly rising, having a dependable mix of players on the field will be the key to winning. While Watkins’ role may happen to be somewhat smaller than it was last year, he can still become an important contributor. Philadelphia needs someone to rely on when the top options are unavailable and the third-year receiver may very well be the answer.
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