Philadelphia Eagles

‘People think I stink? Just wait'

Nick Sirianni singled Quez Watkins out Thursday for doing a "phenomenal job this offseason."

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It was the kind of question Nick Sirianni wouldn’t usually answer.

“Have any players stood out to you during OTAs?”

Generally, Sirianni’s answer would be something along the lines of, “I’m not going to single anybody out because that’s not fair to everybody else, but the whole group is doing a great job.” And then a few things about connecting, dog mentality and core values, and there's your response.

Thursday was different.

On the final day of spring OTAs — the last day the Eagles will be together until training camp reporting day on July 25 — Sirianni was asked about OTA standouts and he didn’t hesitate to name one.

“I have no problem singling one guy out who I think has done a phenomenal job this offseason — Quez Watkins,” Sirianni said before the final practice of the spring. 

We all know about Watkins’ miserable 2022 season.

The fumble against Washington. The two should-have-been-catches that turned into interceptions against Dallas. The drop in the Super Bowl.

The Eagles lost four games last year, and Watkins had a major screw-up in three of them.

But Watkins also has unique speed and ability to track a deep ball, and the Eagles seem to be really working to rebuild his confidence going into 2023.

“I love his attitude —and I’ve said this to him and I have no problem saying it here: Some people — and not in this building, we have a ton of confidence in Quez Watkins, but I kind of sense from him — he’s never said this — but I’ve kind of sensed, ‘Oh, some people think I stink? Wait. Wait.’ And that’s how he’s attacked every day. That’s how he’s attacked practices.”

The Eagles are unsettled at wide receiver after A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. They signed Olamide Zaccheaus, who caught 40 passes for 533 yards and three touchdowns for the Falcons last year. They have young guys like Britain Covey, Devon Allen, Charleston Rambo and Joseph Ngata. Greg Ward is still here after first joining the practice squad in 2017.

Coming off last year, Watkins is definitely a question mark. The cynic would suggest Sirianni is raving about Watkins to try to increase his trade value. And with his skill set, he probably has some value. And he’s still only 24.

And he showed in 2021 exactly what he can bring to an offense.

Watkins caught 43 passes for 647 yards with a 15.0 average and had catches of 39, 41, 53 and 91 yards. Over the last two years, he has six catches of 39 yards or more — only 16 wide receivers have more even though he ranks 42nd in snaps among WRs during that span.

The only sixth-round pick in Eagles history with more receiving yards is Wilbert Montgomery. The only sixth-round wide receivers with more yards the last two years are Donovan Peoples-Jones and Russell Gage.

The Eagles could really use a version of Quez Watkins that resembles the 2021 version, and Sirianni is optimistic Watkins is on his way back there.

“I think he looks really good and we know he has a lot of talent, and I’m excited about that and I really like the way he’s gone about his business,” he said.

“Because he can’t control anything except what he can control. He can’t control what other people think about him, he can’t control anything like that. Can’t control things that may have happened to him last year, the opportunities that he got last year or did not get. All he can control is how he works and I’m really excited about how he went about his business.”

Watkins has always been a favorite of Jalen Hurts, another member of the Eagles’ 2020 draft class.

“Quez has been doing a really good job,” Hurts said after practice Thursday. “He’s been playing a number of different positions, and he’s been doing a really good job at ‘em. Quez is a guy I came in with, I worked out with him before we both got drafted here, we tore it up on the scout team my rookie year and I have all the trust in him.

“He’s hungry. He’s hungry and he uses everything as fuel, and I’m glad he’s taking that approach and I’m excited to see the show he puts on this year.”

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