I was lucky enough to get a chance for a quick one on chat with new Eagles offensive lineman Danny Watkins that I'll be sharing tomorrow and if I can give you a preview, Philly fans are going to really like this guy. However, I wanted to highlight exactly what happened when he was picked. 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.
Afterward, he told me that he and his firefighter friends were invited out by members of the FDNY, who only gave them a tour of their house but also took him to ground zero, where all the men shared stories of people they'd lost. Watkins said that he couldn't imagine losing one brother, let alone 343 on one day and that his experience with the FDNY is one he'll never forget.
"We had an amazing day with the FDNY," Watkins said, "Just the opportunity to spend time with them and meet them... They embraced me as one of their own, as a brother, like I've known them 20 years. When my name got called tonight I thought there was going to riot up there on the balcony."
A lot of people use the cliche that a guy with courage is one that will "run into a burning building." This is guy is no cliche. He really has done that. There's no doubt that his age is a concern. There's a reason teams pick 22 year olds, because they're looking for longevity. But Watkins' age and life experiences give him a perspective on life that arguably no other player in this draft has.
I asked a scout in attendance tonight if he had a NFL comparison to Watkins and he told me "Logan Mankins."