Southern Miss Speed Demon Puts Eagles WRs on Notice

Quez Watkins

Getty Southern Miss WR Quez Watkins went to the Eagles in the 6th Round and he expects to compete in training camp.

Quez Watkins admitted that he grew up idolizing DeSean Jackson and called him a role model. Now the rookie is coming for Jackson’s snaps.

Watkins, a sixth-round pick (200th overall), ran the third-fastest time (4.35 seconds) in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine, a few ticks slower than Henry Ruggs and Javelin Guidry. He gets set to join a revamped Eagles receiving corps that is loaded with speed, including Jackson and legit track stars John Hightower and Marquise Goodwin. Watkins told reporters that he isn’t content to ride the pine. He’s bringing a starter’s mindset into training camp.

“A lot people may not know me now, but really by the end of the season people are going to know me,” Watkins said. “I’m really not somebody that’s going to try to stay off to the side. I’m going to show up to the competition and show everybody what I’m about. Show them I’m ready to play and show them why I’m an Eagle.”

Watkins (6-foot, 185 pounds) has been praised for his blistering breakaway speed, something he plans to showcase in the NFL. The burner from Southern Mississippi hauled in 64 receptions for a team-high 1,178 yards last season after sitting out the first two games. Watkins is a speed demon who intends to add muscle to his frame.

“I just feel like I need to be able to get stronger,” Watkins said, “so I can be able to bully guys and move them and displace them whenever I want to.”

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Watkins: 3rd or 4th Round Pick in Different Year

This year’s draft was considered a historically great class for wide receivers. In fact, 12 pass-catchers were taken in the first two rounds. Quez Watkins stuck around until the sixth round but many in the know thought he would have gone sooner in another year.

Daniel Jeremiah of the “Move the Sticks” podcast said Watkins would have gone as high as the third or fourth round in his evaluation.

“This is the example of how deep this class is at wide receiver. I thought Quez Watkins, in most years, is a third or fourth-round pick yet he’s still available here,” Jeremiah said on ESPN. “Very smooth. A lot of separation at the top of his route. They use him in a lot of those deep over routes. When you watch him get out in the open field, you’re not gonna catch him. It looks like a speedboat pulling away from canoes. There is no catching him.”

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller wasn’t as high on Watkins as Jeremiah but still compared him favorably to the 49ers’ Dante Pettis. Meanwhile, Lance Zierlein of likened him to the Browns’ J’Mon Moore. In his scouting report, he said Watkins needs to learn how to get away from press coverage.

Hip tightness limits route effectiveness, but he runs well enough to work vertically and across the field with modest separation and above-average jump-ball talent. His leap in production is a good sign, but if he doesn’t do a better job of getting away from press, he will have a hard time making it. The potential outweighs the concerns and he should be a Day 3 selection with a shot at becoming a WR4/5.

For Watkins, he was just happy to get drafted and didn’t care about possibly being overlooked in the early rounds.

“I’m really blessed to be picked up and chosen by the Eagles, so it was really a true blessing,” Watkins said.

Southern Miss WR Worked Out with Jalen Hurts

There appears to be a secret fraternity for speed guys, and Quez Watkins is a proud, card-carrying member.

Prior to the draft, the Southern Miss standout spent some time down in Atlanta working out with an enviable cast of football characters that included former and current NFL stars like Deebo Samuel, Tyrod Taylor, Cam Newton and Calvin Ridley.

Oh, and Jalen Hurts, the Eagles’ dynamic second-round pick. Watkins and Hurts first met at the Combine and struck a bond.

“We just got a connection,” Watkins said. “So, we’re already going to have the connection and timing down.”

Watkins also shared a little insight into Hurts’ mentality. He described the rookie quarterback as a tireless worker who won’t settle for anything less than a starting spot.

“He’s not going to stop until he proves to everybody that he’s the best,” Watkins said. “He’s somebody that’s going to work to get to that starting spot, work to get better. He’s not going to settle for nothing.”

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