A 2020 sixth-round pick out of Southern Mississippi, Quez Watkins arrived on many NFL radars by clocking in at 4.35 on the stopwatch in the pre-draft buildup that year.
Set to enter his third professional season in 2022, the 6-foot, 193-pound Watkins is now the 22nd best player on the Philadelphia roster, according to SI.com’s Eagles Today.
Eagles Today site publisher Ed Kracz and staff writer John McMullen put together their top 25 lists independent of each other’s and then assigned point values, with 25 points awarded to the player ranked first on each list, 24 to the player ranked second, and so on, with one point going to the player that was put 25th.
Ties were broken by the highest ranking from either reporter.
Watkins received eight votes in our polling. He was No. 25, according to McMullen with Kracz being more bullish on the young wideout, putting him at No. 19.
Watkins, 24, flashed his raw speed as a rookie when he got his feet wet in six games, a cameo that included his first NFL touchdown when he took a short pass from Jalen Hurts before pirouetting and turning on the afterburners for a 32-yard score.
Watkins wasn’t supposed to be the Eagles’ WR2 in Year 2 of his NFL career but that’s how it ended with the emerging wideout playing 69% of the offensive snaps and piling up 43 receptions for 647 yards and a TD, including a 91-yard explosion from Hurts, which was one of the more exciting plays of the 2021 season for the Eagles even if the context was the offense couldn’t finish.
Moving forward, the same kind of playing time may not be there for Watkins because of the acquisition of a true WR1 in A.J. Brown and the subsequent dominos falling into place from there with a little of the load lifted off budding second-year star DeVonta Smith.
Watkins slots in as the WR3 and will be pushed by veteran Zach Pascal and perhaps Reagor, but the Athens, Alabama, native has shifted from uncertainty entering his second season to a known and valued commodity in 12 months.
“My role doesn’t change,” Watkins said when discussing his role in the wake of the Brown pickup. “We’re all going to compete and we’re all going to do our part as one of 11 on the field, so my role is not going to change.
“I’m going to continue to do what I do.”
The interesting part of the WR equation for Philadelphia will be how head coach Nick Sirianni, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo, and WR coach Aaron Moorehead go about utilizing what they have at their disposal.
Watkins, although best-suited outside the numbers, played in the slot quite a bit last season and that might have to continue come September.
“Last year, it helped me get out of my comfort zone,” Watkins said of moving inside. “I played outside my whole career but moving in the slot got me out of my comfort zone and I’m able to go inside, go outside, and able to do both.
“It’s just another look for me.”
Because Brown and Smith are both so gifted the Eagles will want to utilize them outside as much as possible and that could leave Watkins and Pascal, a Sirianni favorite, sharing slot duties depending on the situation.
Pascal, a lunch-pail player with significant size, could see more top if Sirianni wants to emphasize his top-ranked ground game and if fireworks are needed, presumably it would be Watkins stretching the field.
One thing we do know is that Watkins is preparing like the slot will remain a big part of his job description and has been watching film of some of the NFL’s best inside receivers like Cooper Kupp, Keenan Allen, and Brandin Cooks to get ready.
“We’re all different, but I know me, I’m fast, but I need to learn from them how to slow myself down,” Watkins said. “Inside it was just finding my way through certain defenders. Outside I’m just going through one corner. I just have one man to beat. Inside it’s like an obstacle course.
“Outside I can use more of my speed.”
THE LIST SO FAR
No. 25 - Jack Driscoll
No. 24 - Derek Barnett
No. 23 - Kyzir White
No. 22 - Quez Watkins
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen