2011 NFL Draft Grades: Report Card for the Philadelphia Eagles' First Round

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2011 NFL Draft Grades: Report Card for the Philadelphia Eagles' First Round
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

If there's one thing that's certain about Andy Reid's draft strategy, it's that nothing is certain. For all of the posturing by Howie Roseman on the importance of the depth at defensive line in this year's draft, coupled with the nonstop speculation of cornerback Jimmy Smith as a preferred target, the Eagles decided to pass on all defensive prospects.

Instead, they went with Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins.

Watkins, a natural guard, fits the Eagles' need for a replacement for the awful tandem of Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole. With an upgrade at that position, the play of Winston Justice will presumably see positive gains, adding to the strength of the offensive line as a whole.

There is only one problem: Watkins, a former firefighter, will be 27 years old in November. This means that, should he sign the typical five-year rookie contract, it would not end until just before his 32nd birthday. With the Eagles' recent implementation of a "youth movement," wherein only three players on the entire roster are over the age of 30, the selection of Watkins appears baffling.

With defensive talents such as CB Jimmy Smith, DE Cameron Jordan and DT Muhammad Wilkerson still on the board, it's very surprising that Reid didn't attempt to strengthen his ailing defense. The Eagles head coach even bucked his own tradition by staying pat at No. 23, with no hint of a trade.

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Still, when all is said and done, the Eagles did address one of their biggest needs by acquiring a player that they believe will be their starting right guard for 2011. If Andy Reid is to be believed, Watkins was the team's target from the beginning. In an interview with PhiladelphiaEagles.com earlier tonight, he assured fans that this was the case:

"We had this guy targeted and we were hoping that he was going to be there. If we got a feeling other than that, we would have gone up and snagged him. We really liked him," Reid said.

While it's admirable that the Eagles stayed with their original target, not allowing themselves to be tempted by the falls of CB Prince Amukamara or DE Cameron Jordan, it remains to be seen whether their faith is merited.


Addressing Need: A-

Value: C-

Overall Grade: C+

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