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Ross Tucker: Quez Watkins Can be One of Best No. 3 WRs in NFL

Most have defaulted to Watkins as the Eagles' WR3 but don't count out Zach Pascal

It's obvious that the Eagles' passing game will be built around a trio of star receivers at Jalen Hurts' disposal - wideouts A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith - as well as star tight end Dallas Goedert.

From there the default setting is Quez Watkins at WR3 and many believe the speedy third-year receiver has a chance to flourish because opposing defenses will be so concerned with the other playmakers.

"I think Quez Watkins is going to end up being one of the best number three receivers in the league," former NFL offensive lineman and current Eagles' preseason TV analyst Ross Tucker told Eagles Today via JAKIB Sports' BIRDS 365 Show.

In his second professional season in 2021, Watkins broke out a bit with 43 receptions for 647 yards for an impressive 15.0 yards-per-catch despite being thrown into the deep end of the pool at times as the WR2 opposite Smith.

"You see what [Watkins] did last year," said Tucker. "Last year was his first year really playing. He barely played as a rookie and last year he made a lot of plays for a guy that was a number two receiver on essentially the run heaviest team in the NFL.".

On paper, it makes some sense to expect big things from Watkins but the projections of the offseason can often fail to take it the context of the realities of the regular season.

The most obvious hurdles for Watkins will be the dispersal of traffic and whether or not the Eagles can morph from run-heavy to pass-heavy with Hurts as the quarterback.

"I don't think the Eagles are going to be a quote, unquote, a passing team," Tucker said. "I think they might be a little bit more balanced this year and they certainly have the weapons to do so."

Nick Sirianni acknowledged last season his game plans were designed with Smith and Goedert as the two fulcrums. Brown immediately increases that to a trio in the passing game and then you have the backfield duo of Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell to address before you can even think about Watkins.

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So perhaps volume shouldn't be the measuring stick for Watkins and the focus should instead shift toward splash plays.

Then there is Hurts.

There's little doubt that the Eagles will start the 2022 season much like they did 2021 in that Sirianni and play-caller Shane Steichen want to be an 11-personnel team that can throw the football in an explosive fashion. You don't bring in Brown at a $25 million average annual value to line up and pound the football.

That said, Sirianni also notes that he will do anything he needs to do to win a football game and the coach proved it last season by shifting from pass-heavy to run-heavy as a 2-5 start turned into a playoff berth.

If a similar trajectory happens this time around, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Zach Pascal will get the lion's share of work in 11 personnel as a Sirianni favorite who does all the dirty work like blocking very well.

"I certainly hope they don't get away from the run game," Tucker said. "It was so dominant at times. It's really rare to see. I mean there were games [last season] where I felt like Jordan Howard like 12 yards a carry."

You can't have it both ways, though, and maybe that sums up the Eagles' plan for WR3: a combination of Watkins and Pascal depending on need and circumstance.

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Sports. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talker Jody McDonald, every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube.com and JAKIBSports.com. You can reach John at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen