While the additions of 2021 first-round pick DeVonta Smith and draft-day trade acquisition A.J. Brown has the Philadelphia Eagles on cloud nine as we enter the meat of the summer, a look into their depth on the perimeter has presented quarterback Jalen Hurts with an enticing arsenal of pass-catchers in what has progressed into a make-or-break campaign for the young signal-caller. While the aforementioned names deserve all the praise that will soon come their way, don’t forget the importance of receiver Quez Watkins—my breakout pick for the Eagles this season—within Philadelphia’s corps of pass-catchers.
Although it’s easy to gawk at the prestige of the Eagles’ top two aerial targets and the in-line prowess of Dallas Goedert, Watkins will remain a major contributor within an offense that should present him a ton of one-on-one opportunities to contribute this season. Following a rookie campaign in 2020 in which Watkins spent more time in street clothes than in uniform, last fall showcased a player worthy of a substantial workload in Shane Steichen’s offense totaling 647 yards on 43 receptions. While Brown inserts right away as the WR1a to Smith’s WR1b, Watkins’ skillset presents a legit perimeter option that proved time and time again last fall he can not only compete against the league’s top corners, but succeed within a variety of offensive concepts.
With primary work coming out of the slot last fall in which Watkins totaled the seventh-most routes run from the inside alignment of any wideout in the game, his build and skill set—to a point—offer distinct similarities to that of Smith. Long, lanky, outstanding long speed to lift the roof off a secondary, Watkins is much more than a good story as a late-day-three draft pick out of Southern Mississippi—he’s impactful and can flat out get after it at every level of the defense. While questions were raised as to why he remained behind the likes of John Hightower and Greg Ward in his rookie season with an obvious skill set apparent, he’s since skyrocketed up the depth chart, trumped the likes of former Eagles first-rounder Jalen Reagor, and reports following spring workouts have seen Watkins slot as the third wideout in base 11 personnel (1 RB/1TE/3WRs).
While years of searching for substantial production at the wideout spot presented a dark cloud hovering over Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman for some time, Philadelphia has seemingly figured it out. While past names in Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are gone, with the names mentioned above in Smith and Brown that will holster eyes from week to week, the continued improvement and success of Quez Watkins will not only make things easier on Hurts. Still, they will allow the Eagles to jigsaw one of the most well-rounded pass-catching units football has to offer.