Quez Watkins – An Uncertain Future? Or Ready For More?

After watching some Eagles tape to help me cope with the long off-season of pointless debates, Quez Watkins has me stumped as to how I view him with the 2022 Eagles.

On one hand, the Southern Miss alumni racked up 647 yards on 43 receptions in an offense built around a stout (get it?) running game, stud WR Devonta Smith and TE Dallas Goedert. But on the other, I watch him questioning how much he can grow, especially in a WR room that has changed considerably from last year’s iteration.

First, I should point out that the Eagles were somewhat of a mess on offense early on in the 2021 season, with no clear identity in place until the hammering of the Detroit Lions midway through the year.

Prior to that there was a lot of experimenting and questionable play design/decision making that caused the Eagles passing offense to rank 30th in the NFL through week 12. Is that completely the receivers fault? No, of course not.

A first year system with a first year starter and the most experienced players at the position being Greg Ward, Watkins, and Jalen Reagor? It’s a tough experience for any young wideout to go through. 

I’m not cruel, and it’s incredibly clear that Quez Watkins was the third option behind the star talent in Smith and the suffering Reagor. All-in-all, for a third wide receiver, his production during the 2021 season was actually very good. Over 600 receiving yards on 40 or so catches in an offense not known for its vertical passing is about where I’d expect him to be.

In good company, but I’m longing for more.

Watkins has some elite traits that could help him go forward as a key piece for the offense, including legit 4.3 speed and the ability to make safeties and corners have a ton of difficulty trying to stick with him in man coverage. When you compare him to other Eagles wideouts, it’s clear why he should’ve been given more time in his rookie year.

In my rewatch of film over the past month, Watkins stood out to me as a very good check down/screen option. I’d like to see him be deployed in that role a bit more. There’s plenty of times in games, such as the Chiefs loss, where Watkins was dominant with room to run. My only issue with the usage of Watkins in such a role is the fact that 1) he can easily be outmuscled by stronger corners and 2) it’d make him a bit one dimensional.

However, this is where I may start to seem a little cruel. The below clip is from the Broncos game in week 10, the good deep ball to the end zone by Jalen Hurts and that should be a routine catch by Quez to put the Eagles 2 scores up against a good opponent before halftime. The main crux of his problems were largely inexperience and some situational awareness not quite where you’d want it. 

Another instance is the below situation from the Eagles-Giants matchup last year, where Hurts threw an interception that looked bad on the network broadcast, but the ever NFL omniscient Brett Kollmann quickly pointed out that Watkins sort of stopped mid-route hoping for a flag. With someone of Quez’s speed and agility I’d expect him to still at least have a chance at making a play on the ball on what was a brilliant pre-snap read by Hurts.


The eye in the sky NEVER lies. Always remember that tape gives true context to box scores! #eagles #flyeaglesfly #nfl #rolltide #boomersooner

♬ original sound – Brett Kollmann

The big issue Watkins has to negotiate is the current position group. He’ll undoubtedly be a vital piece to the offense this season. However, with the additions of A.J. Brown and Zach Pascal it’s hard to see Watkins getting as many reps as he did in 2021.

Pascal was signed to a fully guaranteed $1.5 million contract (Pascal can earn up to another $1 million in incentives) and the fact is, he’s going to be an experienced slot receiver behind Smith and Brown that has history with the head coach. Sirianni was even quoted saying on Watkins:

“I know I’ve said this before and I tell Zach this and the guys make fun of me when I say this, but I want my sons to play football like Zach Pascal,” Sirianni told the Indianapolis Star after the 2020 season. “I hope he knows that is the biggest honor I could give him right there is to say that because I want them to be all the things Zach Pascal is.”

Don’t get me wrong, in a situation where the Eagles need a good tunnel screen or deep ball I could see Watkins jumping in and being effective; that’ll only improve upon what I think Watkins was able to was do so well last year. Being that stealthy option which corners don’t primarily pay attention to is a big part of Quez’s game, especially if you watch tape where there’s a break down in coverage and Watkins is in so much space Elon Musk is trying to send a rocket there.

However, if you minimize his role to being a situational wideout, I’d be extremely concerned for his 2022 season. He’s a player that the Eagles need to use as much as possible. Watkins is that talented.

Ultimately, I trust Nick Sirianni when it comes to wide receivers, and it’s as clear as day that Quez Watkins leveled up with just one off-season. I am talking from a June point of view and practice can easily sway a coach’s opinion from their preconceived ideas. Pascal’s going to be a solid option and is looking like a bargain as a WR3 – it’s now up to Quez Watkins to prove to everyone he can continue to improve and be that deadly deep threat we know he can be.

Cover Image Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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