Yay! Danny Watkins Is Going to Play!

Yay! Danny Watkins Is Going to Play!

After being made inactive for three of the season's first four weeks, the Eagles' first round pick will finally be on the field this Sunday according to reports. Danny Watkins, who was touted by some draft analysts as the most NFL-ready lineman in this year's draft, will finally start at right guard against the Buffalo Bills. He replaces Kyle DeVan, who the team claimed off waivers shortly after cut-down day.

Watkins struggled during the preseason, and didn't look quite as prepared as we were promised, so the Eagles added DeVan as an insurance policy on September 4. Formerly a member of the Indianapolis Colts, offensive line coach Howard Mudd was familiar with the Oregon State product, who within days he was announced as the opening day starter.

Not surprisingly, DeVan has been the weak link in the offensive line. While he's not been completely ineffective either, he's part of the problem with an interior that hasn't been able to get any push at the goal line. In short, DeVan is a replacement level player who can generally give the quarterback a few seconds in pass protection, but isn't overwhelming anybody on the other side.

Which is why it's go-time for Watkins. We have no way of knowing if the big Canadian is ready or not, but the Eagles are 1-3, and in no position to wait around for him to develop. When he was selected number 23 overall in April, it was assumed the 26 year old would start immediately. In fact, whether he was a good choice or not was largely dependent on him having a positive impact right away.

Much has been made about this year's draft class not contributing so far, with Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, and Curtis Marsh -- their first three picks in April -- all spending the first month inactive for the most part. You can give Jarrett and Marsh somewhat of a pass due to the lockout and some additional circumstances, but Watkins was sold to us like a used car that could be driven right off the lot.

While it obviously wouldn't be wise to label him a bust because he missed four games, Watkins needs to get in there and beef up the interior. The Eagles' struggles in the red zone have been crushing, particularly in their last two defeats, and you can't help but wonder if maybe they would have punched one or two more in behind big number 63 had he been ready.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for the Birds, and they're still trying to find their best 11 on both sides of the ball.

>> Eagles to start first-round pick Watkins [Wilmington News Journal]

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons trust the NFL draft process on the parkway

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons trust the NFL draft process on the parkway

When fans came to Philadelphia to see the future of the NFL, they got a glimpse of the Sixers’ future too.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons walked through the draft festivities on Thursday surrounded by fans. 

Embiid posted an Instagram video soaking in a -- you guessed it -- “Trust the Process” chant. Check out that video above.

That night Embiid and Simmons expressed their appreciation for the crowd's enthusiastic reaction.

Humble Eagles' 14th pick Derek Barnett ready to get to work

Humble Eagles' 14th pick Derek Barnett ready to get to work

Derek Barnett, the former Tennessee defensive end, clad in an all-red, three-piece suit, stared at the landline phone in front of him in the green room at the NFL draft on the Ben Franklin Parkway.  

It wasn't ringing.

Despite his best efforts, the 20-year-old couldn't telepathically get that phone to go off. The Eagles, who he knew had some interest in him after a top-30 visit earlier in the offseason, were on the clock. But still, that landline remained silent.

Then his cell phone rang. And it was a Philly number.

"I just got very excited and I really can't explain it because everything happened so fast," Barnett said just after 11 p.m. Thursday. "But it was like a surreal moment."

When he answered the phone, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie was on the other end. Barnett was then passed around from head coach Doug Pederson to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and likely to the Eagles' two-headed personnel czar Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas.

By the time Barnett joined a conference call with reporters an hour and change later, he had already shaken hands with the commissioner, been shuffled through various media obligations and stood in front of thousands of Eagles fans.

So by 11:05 p.m., when he talked over the phone to reporters at the NovaCare Complex, nothing from his wild night had really settled in.

Of all the players who were selected on Thursday night, he was the only one who won't have to leave the city to be with his new team.

"It's very fun," Barnett said. "That means I can get to work quicker."

The humble pass rusher, who broke Reggie White's sack record at Tennessee, is the type of player that exemplifies what the Eagles are looking for, according to Roseman.

"He stands for what we want to be and I think everyone in the city will see what kind of person he is, what kind of player he is," Roseman said. "Unbelievably high character, unbelievable worker and tremendously talented and productive."

Barnett (6-foot-3, 259 pounds) finished his college career with 32 sacks and Douglas praised the young pass-rusher for his ability to finish at the top of his rush.

The Eagles took Barnett because, they say, he was the top-rated player on their board at the time (see story). But the team still has Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry and Chris Long and Marcus Smith.

Where will Barnett figure into the rotation?

"My mindset is to help the team anyway I can," Barnett said. "I know I have to come in and work hard and earn the respect of my team first. Just because I was a first-round pick, that don't mean nothing. I have to work harder now. My plan is to come in, get around those vets, learn from them and hopefully, when the season comes around, I can be able to contribute."

While the Eagles return several pass-rushers from a year ago, the team desperately needs to find a way to sack quarterbacks, especially because Schwartz's entire defense is predicated on getting pressure with the front four and not blitzing.

Barnett is pretty excited to join the group.

"I love it," Barnett said of Schwartz's defense. "That's my style and I feel like I fit it very well and Coach Schwartz said the same thing, too. I think it's going to be a good fit."

While there was certainly some mumbling when the Barnett picked was announced on the Parkway and while plenty of fans on social media weren't thrilled with the selection (see story), the newest Eagle said he felt nothing but love.

And he can't wait to play in front of those fans on Sundays.

"Great fan base," he said. "I've been feeling the love ever since my name got called. And I was a little nervous at first, I didn't know if I was going to get the love or some boos, but I got a great welcoming and I appreciate the fans for doing that, because I had no clue where I was going to end up at."

Now, he knows. And he won't have to go far.