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Leave it to the Philadelphia Eagles to select the oldest first-round player in NFL history. Danny Watkins, 26, was a former firefighter from British Colombia who didn’t start playing football until the age of 22. Watkins played at a junior college before transferring to Baylor University, where he started 25 games.
Watkins struggled initially in training camp, losing out to Kyle DeVan for the starting right guard spot on an offensive line that all but had a place open for the rookie. DeVan struggled so much that he was waived after four games and Watkins moved into the starting role, starting the final 12 games of the season for the Eagles.
He didn’t miss a beat once he moved into his role, playing all 807 snaps. Watkins was inconsistent over the course of a full season, although he was named to Pro Football Weekly’s All-Rookie Team. Then again, Watkins was also the only guard chosen in the top 50 picks of the 2011 NFL draft.
Considering both Watkins and center Jason Kelce were rookies, Watkins played at an acceptable level. The growing pains are to be expected, but there were also some highlights, such as the fact that Watkins didn’t give up a single sack all season. Watkins is surrounded by three Pro Bowl caliber offensive linemen in Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, and Todd Herremans, which definitely helps the guard out.