What They're Saying: Danny Watkins

What They're Saying: Danny Watkins

A quick look around the Internets to see what people are saying about Eagles 2011 first round draft pick Danny Watkins.

Sheil Kapadia, Moving the Chains: The best thing that you can say about the Watkins pick is that he should be a plug and play player, as Mike Mayock would say. According to DraftMetrics.com,  90 percent of the guards taken in the first round between 1991-2010  started as rookies. They also note that between 1991-2004, 67 percent of  the offensive linemen taken between picks 14 and 28 went on to start  for five years or more. The only position that was more likely to  produce a five-year starter was linebacker (74 percent).

Adam Kaplan, Fox Sports: The Eagles decided to pass on offensive tackle Gabe Carimi in order to  select a true guard in Danny Watkins. The 26-year old interior offensive  lineman will compete for the starting right guard job with the Eagles.  With Watkins in the mix, Philadelphia could look at filling a need at  cornerback later in the draft.

Ray Didinger, CSNPhilly.com: Prior to the Senior Bowl, Watkins was known only to a handful of Big 12  fanatics and draftniks, but after that week, he was on everyone’s short  list of line prospects. Reid targeted Watkins at that point and never  wavered.

For a guy who hasn’t played a lot of football, Watkins  has remarkably good technique. His fundamentals are sound; his footwork  and balance are good. He was an all-conference tackle at Baylor but at  6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, he is better equipped to play guard in the  pros.

He moves defenders off the ball and on pass plays he can  anchor against a bull-rushing tackle. He plays with fire and keeps going  to the whistle. If he sees defenders standing around a pile, he will  put them in the dirt, which will please Eagles fans who like lineman  that play with an edge.

Andy Reid, On Watkins' Age: "A lot has been said about Danny’s age. We felt he was as  good a football player as there was in the draft. We want to maintain a  strong offensive line. We want to build a line to be the strongest in  the NFL and this is a step toward that. His clock started a little later  for this sport. He was a hockey player and a rugby player but he took  to the game right away and was productive. He’s a heck of a player in  the run game and the pass game. I can’t tell you how happy we are to  have him."

JasonB, BleedingGreen: Not only is Watkins the best story of any top prospect, he also had a the greatest moment of the first round.

For those that don't know, Watkins was a  firefighter for four years in Canada who didn't even begin to play  organized football until about five years ago. Much of who he is and the  way he carries himself comes from his time as a firefighter. Just as an  illustration of the bond he had with the guys he calls "his brothers"  at least 10 of them made the trip from British Columbia to cheer him at  the draft.

As soon as the pictures of him  smiling on his phone came up on the monitors, his firefighter buddies  went nuts. In the photo on top of this story, Watkins is giving the  thumbs up to all the firefighters in the balcony that were yelling and  chanting his name.

Todd McShay, ESPN:

Brian Billick, Fox Sports:

Finally, Reuben Frank has plenty more reactions from Andy Reid on what the Eagles were thinking about their 23rd overall selection.


Taking in return, Ryan White moves on but will always remember Flyers

Taking in return, Ryan White moves on but will always remember Flyers

Ryan White was whisking by to the visiting locker room when he had to stop.
With huge delight, the long-haired forward hugged a Flyers employee in bright orange athletic gear standing outside the laundry room. 
The two exchanged hellos and good wishes before White’s path was impeded again.
None of this was a nuisance. This is what he loved.
“That’s probably the biggest thing I miss here in Philly is the people around the rink are great,” White said late Thursday night inside the Wells Fargo Center. “The guys from the locker room attendants to the security guys to people taking care of my girlfriend and stuff like that. It’s a special place to play and I always felt like I was welcomed here.”
White had just scored his first goal of the 2016-17 season. All offseason, he hoped and planned for the occasion to be in a Flyers sweater. He talked about his endearment for the organization trumping the worth of money elsewhere.
But on Thursday night, he was wearing an Arizona Coyote uniform and, what he called, “putting the final nail in the coffin” of a 5-4 loss for the Flyers.
“It feels good scoring here,” he said.
Not at all how he pictured it.
Playing fourth-line minutes (8:09), White somehow snuck a shot past Steve Mason from a nasty side angle with 4:19 remaining in regulation, making it 5-3 and virtually snuffing another Flyers comeback bid.
“Any time you’re coming back playing your old club, you want to make sure you get a win. … I loved playing as a Flyer, it was a lot of fun playing here,” White said. “Guys over there are a great group of guys, good coaching staff, good people in the organization. It’s just a special place to play.”
It’s where White wanted to be but he holds no ill will towards general manager Ron Hextall and the Flyers. Hextall liked and expressed interest in re-signing White, a role-playing fourth-liner, but went out and inked free-agent right winger Dale Weise (four-year, $9.4 million deal), more of a third-line player with similar attributes.
That signaled White’s end with the Flyers after two seasons.
“I think I’d be crazy if I didn’t want to come back here, it just didn’t work out,” White said. “I’m just happy I’ve gotten a chance to play in Phoenix and it’s been pretty good so far.”
White on Wednesday night caught up with former Flyers teammates Radko Gudas and Michal Neuvirth. While with the Flyers, he lived in the same building as the two. They all had dinner and White got to visit Gudas’ baby daughter.
On the ice, White, gritty and physical-minded, made his presence felt. He was penalized in the second period for charging Nick Cousins. He was also called for a delay of game penalty in the final two minutes for closing his hand on the puck. The Flyers scored on the power play, ironically turning White’s goal into the gamer-winner.
“He told me he just wanted the winning goal,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said with a laugh. “So that’s all that counts.”
White enjoyed the rough-and-tough nature against his old friends. 
“All those guys play hard, they know how the game goes,” he said. “I had a little conversation with Gudy last night at dinner and he said, ‘You’re going to be running around out there.’ I figured it would be no other way. You’ve got to expect that coming from those guys, they’re a hard group over there.
“Those guys know how I play and they all play the same way, too, so it was fun.”
He also appreciated seeing the Flyers Heritage Night pregame ceremony honoring the organization’s legends, led by late founder Ed Snider. White kept tabs on the Flyers’ home opener last week when a banner commemorating Snider was raised to the rafters.
“I even heard about the first game coming back, it was pretty emotional in here,” he said. “It was a pretty special time playing here with Mr. Snider around. I think he’ll obviously be forever missed and like I said, it was just special to be a part of it.”
White wasn’t sure what to expect in his return. In the end, he wasn’t surprised.
“It’s funny, I thought maybe coming back here, it would be a little bit different,” White said. “But they’re a pretty welcoming group and it’s nice to be here.”
Even if it’s just for one game.

Rod Brind'Amour relishes night with Eric Lindros, Flyers alumni

Rod Brind'Amour relishes night with Eric Lindros, Flyers alumni

When he was introduced at center ice Thursday night, Rod Brind’Amour, who epitomizes what it meant to be a Flyer perhaps like no other player in franchise history, acknowledged the crowd.
And then the current Carolina assistant coach walked over to former teammate Eric Lindros and hugged him.
There were indeed some awkward moments for the two back in the 1990s, but they remain Flyers forever and this was Heritage Night for the organization’s Hall of Famers in celebration of their 50th Anniversary.
“You know I haven’t seen him in forever, and it was just fun and when we got out there we just said, ‘nice to be back on the ice again’, it’s been a long time and I haven’t seen him,” Brind’Amour explained of the gesture toward Lindros. 
“I saw Johnny [LeClair] last year but it was just nice to catch up with these guys and relive some stories, we had a lot of great times so it was nice to see him.”
How ironic that Brind’Amour would get traded to Carolina for a larger centerman in Keith Primeau and eventually after the pain of separation from the Flyers womb had healed, he won a Cup with the Hurricanes.
Ask Roddy and he’ll tell you that Cup should have been won in Philly. He began the season as a member of the 1999-00 team that blew a 3-1 lead to the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals, but was traded at the mid-point.
To this very day, it ranks all-time as the most controversial trade the Flyers ever made. As if the very soul of the organization had been purged.
“Well I mean that’s the way it goes, right?” Brind’Amour said. “We had a great team. We had a great team back then, but trades happen and they were trying to make the team better. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, but had we stayed together who knows what could have happened.
“I’m just fortunate that I got that Cup because obviously, that is what I played for my whole life. Would it have been great to have it here? Yes, I mean that would have been something special, but that’s life. It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to.
“It was just unfortunate we didn’t win because we were one of the best teams in the league there for a long time and things just didn’t work out. It’s hard to win a Stanley Cup, let me tell you.”
He admitted there’s an orange ‘n black spot in his heart that will forever belong to the Flyers. That’s why he interrupted his own season in Carolina to return here for one night of memories.
He also said how much it meant to him last spring when club chairman Ed Snider reached out to him shortly before his death.
“I got a great phone call before Mr. Snider passed and him telling me what he thought I meant to this team,” Brind’Amour said. 
“It meant a lot. So I really feel connected to the Flyers' organization again and I’ll take any chance I can to get back here and be a part of it.
“It has meant a lot to me to be back here and be in the fold. I love the alumni … so, any chance to get to reconnect with these guys means the world to me.”
Which is pretty much how Flyers fans felt about him, too.