Is Danny Watkins the Philadelphia Eagles' Worst Draft Pick Ever?
As the Eagles' disastrous season continues, it's pretty evident that Andy Reid will not be returning for a 15th season. That is unless owner Jeffrey Lurie told a complete lie to the fans and the media when he put Reid on notice following their mediocre 8-8 season in 2011.
We can point to a plethora of reasons for the Eagles' decline over the past four years. From the hiring of Jim Washburn and his failed "Wide 9" defensive system, to the infamous hiring of Juan Castillo, the signing of mega-bust Nnamdi Asomugha, wasted draft picks like Danny Watkins and Brandon Graham, their rash of injuries along the offensive line, and Howard Mudd's hiring - most of Andy Reid's recent decisions have blown up in his face.
The Philadelphia Eagles' 2010 and 2011 drafts were not just bad or pitiful or horrendous; they were historically awful. Many people consider these two draft classes to be among the worst in modern NFL history. And when you consider how many bad teams there have been in the past 25 years, that's a pretty amazing feat. We won't be calling Eagles' GM Howie Roseman the next Bill Polian anytime soon.
Let's look at their 2010 draft when they traded up to select Brandon Graham in the 1st round at #13 overall. At this point it's pretty safe to say that Brandon Graham is closer to Jerome McDougle than he is Hugh Douglas. He is an absolute disaster of a player and should probably be refunding some of his salary to the fans for insulting the game of football. In 26 career games, he has just 4 1/2 sacks and he'll probably be out of the NFL in another year or two. When you consider that the Seahawks selected Earl Thomas with the next pick and the Giants took Jason Pierre-Paul directly after them, it makes this pick all the more horrendous.
With their second round pick in the 2010 draft they took Nate Allen, who was supposed to be the eventual answer to replacing Brian Dawkins. In his defense, he has shown flashes of brilliance, but this year he has failed to produce any turnovers. With their 3rd round pick in 2010, the team took DE Daniel Te'o-Neshheim, who was cut after one year. And in the 4th round they took Trevard Lindley (out of the NFL after playing just one year), linebacker Kennan Clayton (cut in training camp and now with Oakland), QB Andy Kafka (cut in training camp), and tight end Clay Harbor. Of the seven players they took in the first four rounds of this draft, just one of them has contributed much of anything to this team (Nate Allen). Clay Harbor has proven to be a medicore backup tight end, and he is still with the team at least. I suppose that is better than wasting a pick on a cornerback like Lindley.
Turn the page one year later, to the 2011 Draft and things get uglier as the Eagles made another bizarre decision by selecting a 26-year-old guard from Baylor named Danny Watkins, who played just two years in college and spent much of his adult life fighting fires in Canada. With their second round pick, they selected former Temple standout Jaiquawn Jarrett to play alongside Nate Allen. Instead of playing alongside Allen, he was cut after one abysmal season. With their third round pick they selected Curtis Marsh, who has just 6 tackles this year and should not be with the Eagles next year. With their fourth round picks they took linebacker Casey Matthews (just 7 tackles this year) and kicker Alex Henery. It's safe to say that Henery is the only "prize" of this horrific draft class. Now, back to Watkins...
At this point in his career, Watkins looks completely lost out on the football field. Perhaps he sustained this "chronic ankle injury" in college, which is impacting his mobility. Or, maybe he just isn't that passionate about football and lacks the focus and drive necessary to compete. Whatever the reason is, he doesn't belong in the NFL. He will most likely be sent packing following this season, barring some small miracle.
Making matters worse, Watkins has been replaced in the starting lineup by Dennis Kelly, who the Eagles picked up off the scrapheap.
Many are starting to wonder if Watkins is the worst Eagles draft pick of all time. When you look at the bevy of Eagles draft busts dating back to 1969 (when they selected Leroy Keyes), there is plenty of competition.
And since this is an article about disappointing Eagles draft picks, I have to mention Mike Mamula. I will not put Mike Mamula in the group of worst picks ever. Sure he was a disappointment, but let's also give him a little credit. He did play five seasons for the Eagles and managed to record at least 8 sacks in a season twice. He managed to get 31.5 sacks in his 5-year career to go along with 209 tackles. That's more than can be said for bottom feeders like McDougle, Graham, and Jon Harris. Mamula's legacy has more to do with the Eagles not selecting Warren Sapp with the pick. If Mamula were a 2nd or 3rd rounder we would probably look back and say he was an OK player.
When you look at the disaster which is known as Watkins, he has some serious competition. Jon Harris, who the Eagles took in 1997, lasted just two seasons and produced 2 sacks in 24 games. Other notable Eagles 1st round draft busts include RB Michael Haddix, Kevin Allen (gone after one year), Lester Holmes, Leonard Renfro (selected in the 1st round along with Holmes in 1993), Antone Davis, Bernard Williams (gone after one year), Freddie Mitchell, Jerome McDougle (3 sacks in 33 games), and of course Brandon Graham.
Brandon Graham might go down as the Eagles' worst draft pick of all time when it is all said and done. He will be gone after this season. And, when you consider what they gave up to get him, combined with Earl Thomas and Jason Pierre-Paul being chosen right after him, he is an epic disaster. Plus, Watkins was a lower-round pick, which makes his level of bustdom not as bad as Graham or McDougle, who were picked much higher in the first round.
Many factors have to go into determining just how bad a draft selection is. Ryan Leaf is arguably the worst draft bust of all time because he was a #2 overall pick and he set the Chargers back for years. However, former Seahawks QB Dan McGwire was even worse than Leaf. But, McGwire was selected 16th overall, which makes him not as much of a bust for obvious reasons.
It's still a little early to declare Danny Watkins as the Philadelphia Eagles' worst draft pick of all time, but he's certainly in the mix.
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