‘Electrifying’ Quez Watkins ready to make big plays for Eagles

Eliot Shorr-Parks
July 11, 2020 - 8:24 am

Speed. Speed. Speed. 

There is no question that was the motivating factor behind almost all of the Eagles’ moves this offseason, as they made a clear effort to turn one of the slowest offenses in the league last season into one of the quickest. 

Perhaps no move this offseason showed just how much the Eagles were committed to adding speed than the drafting of receiver Quez Watkins. 

Watkins, a 6-foot, 185 pound receiver out of Southern Mississippi, caught the attention of many when he ran a blazing 4.35 second 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine. 

The truth is he thought he would run fast. 

“I was truthfully shooting for lower. It was supposed to be lower, I kind of stumbled at my start. When I was training it was lower,” Watkins said. “Me and my trainer were shooting for the highs 4.32, but we were shooting for a 4.30 or a 4.29. Something in that area.”

Even with a slight stumble, however, only one receiver currently on the Eagles’ roster — Marquise Goodwin — turned in a quicker 40-time at the NFL Combine than Watkins did. His 4.35-second 40 leaves Watkins tied with DeSean Jackson’s time at the 2008 NFL Combine. 

In fact, according to Pro Football Reference, only eight players since 2000 have turned in a quicker 40-time. 

There is no question Watkins feels his speed is a major part of his game. 

“Electrifying,” Watkins said when asked to describe his game. “My game comes with a lot of explosive plays. Deep passes or long runs.”

Watkins’ speed and play-making ability really started to show during his final year at Mississippi State. Watkins caught up 64 passes for 1,178 yards in 12 games, an average of 18.4 yards-per-catch, to go along with six touchdowns. 

In addition to his speed, Watkins felt part of the reason he improved so much throughout college was all of the time he put in working on tracking the ball and making catches at different angles really paid off. 

“I know how to track and play the ball. A lot of my plays is me not just leaving somebody and making wide open catches,” Watkins said. “I have to make an over-the-shoulder catch or highpoint the ball. So I track the ball very well when it is the air and when it is coming my way.”

In an effort to help make a tough transition from a small school to the NFL go as smooth as possible, Watkins spent time working out with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz last month in Houston, Texas. 

The workouts were prompted by Wentz, who texted Watkins and some of the other receivers. The decision to go was an easy one for Watkins. 

“It was great timing and a great setup, because I am a rookie getting in with the starting quarterback,” Watkins said. “It was something I couldn’t miss.”

Watkins, who got in work along side other young receivers like Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor, came away impressed with Wentz’s game. 

“He is a tall dude with a strong arm. He is a guy that has a rocket and he likes to throw the ball deep. That is good for me because I am deep threat,” Watkins said. “When you have someone that can throw it deep consistently and accurately, it is good.”

Watkins is hoping his time spent with Wentz will help him not only get on the field quicker this season, but lock down a roster spot in training camp. 

“It was a pretty good experience. Especially getting with the starting quarterback, him teaching me signals, going over the plays,” Watkins said. “I have yet to have reps in Philly, so it was getting reps that I didn’t get, then really just working on me and his timing. So when the time comes, I can have someone vouch for me. If Carson likes me, he can go back and tell the OC, or the coaches, ‘I really like Quez, I feel comfortable with him’, it gives me a step ahead.”

The battle for roster spots at receiver in training camp will be an interesting one. The team will keep anywhere from five-to-six receivers. Three players are locks heading in — DeSean Jackson, Reagor and Arcega-Whiteside. Alshon Jeffery is a wild card since it is possible he starts the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to his foot injury. That likely leaves two-to-three spots for players like Watkins, John Hightower, Greg Ward and Marquise Goodwin, with Deontay Burnett and Shelton Gibson also having a shot at making the time. 

Watkins, however, has two things going for him nobody on that list besides Hightower does — he is both lighting quick and the team just invested a draft pick in him. 

“I am a very explosive player,” Watkins said, “and I plan on bringing that explosiveness and that consistency to Philly”

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!