Unsurprisingly, excitement and optimism came along with wide receiver A.J. Brown when he arrived in Philadelphia via an Eagles trade with the Tennessee Titans.
Projected to form a tandem of terrific with DeVonta Smith at wide receiver, Brown’s acquisition is however likely to lessen the targets and potential of others in the WR room. That’s the reality of the situation.
However, it’s not how Eagles wideout Quez Watkins sees things playing out.
“I loved us [getting Brown],” Watkins said Wednesday, via The Philadelphia Enquirer’s Josh Tolentino. “It’s an extra threat in the room. For us, we’re going to be really dynamic.
“We’re all good guys, we’re all going to compete, we’re all going to do our part. My role is not going to change — I’m going to continue to do what I do.”
Following a pedestrian seven-reception rookie season in 2020 in which he saw action in only six games, Watkins put together a promising 2021 campaign. His 43 receptions and 647 receiving yards were each third on the Eagles and second among receivers behind Smith. His stock was on the rise, but the addition of Brown — a second standout wideout — to an offense that was No. 1 in rushing would seemingly change a lot.
Thus, if nothing else, it’s good to see the soon-to-be 24-year-old’s excitement regarding Brown coming aboard and his optimism that his role will remain unchanged.
A number of traits Watkins has in his favor are his newfound versatility and ability to play in the slot, and his speed.
Watkins, as evidenced by his 91-yard reception last season against the San Francisco 49ers, has big-play ability and might well be the fastest among the Eagles WR corps. He also lined up in the slot on 571 snaps and out wide for 235, per Pro Football Focus. In comparison, Brown is outside the majority of the time (459 snaps wide last season for the Titans in comparison to 178 in the slot).
The biggest challenge to Watkins’ role changing is likely another Eagles addition, Zach Pascal. Pascal tallied 627 snaps from the slot last year with the Indianapolis Colts. It would seem Watkins has a leg up on holding down a spot in the starting lineup.
“Honestly, last year helped me get out of my comfort zone,” Watkins said. “I played outside all my career, but moving in the slot got me out of my comfort zone. Now, I’m able to go inside or outside, being able to do both, it’s just another tool for me.”
There’s plenty more in the Eagles’ offensive toolbox than there was a season ago, but Watkins is certainly giving no indication that he plans to take a step back.
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