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Andy Reid expects more from Danny Watkins

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Last year's first round pick Danny Watkins was expected to be a cornerstone of the offensive line in 2012, but the early returns have been so-so.

Jim McIsaac

Somewhat lost in the really bad play of Demetress Bell & Dallas Reynolds has been the subpar performance of Danny Watkins this season. As a first round pick heading into his 2nd year, Watkins was expected to be one of the strengths of the line, but so far he's probably been average at best.

Andy Reid admitted yesterday that Watkins' performance against the Lions was certainly not his best, but he still has confidence in the right guard.

"I won't tell you that his last game was his best game," Reid explained. "He had a few games in there that were just top quality games. He just needs to get back to doing what he does. Danny is a good football player. That's why he's here, that's why he was a first round pick.

The biggest issue for Watkins isn't physical. Everyone can see that he's big and strong enough to handle himself at this level, but there is concern that he's not picking up the mental aspect of the game quick enough. He also admitted this week that he let things get away from him in Detroit.

"Just overall, just the focus and the technique, I got away from it," he said. "Things had actually been going pretty well to that point. I feel I've done a pretty good job getting honed in before each game [before that]. It just kind of got away from me in that game."

Speaking to CSNPhilly, Brian Westbrook says he thinks Watkins is "just guessing" out there.

"As an offensive lineman, you can’t go where the linebacker is at right now," Westbrook said. "You have to understand the scheme first of all, to know where they’re going. You have to go where the linebackers or defensive backs are gonna be. And right now, because he hasn’t had a lot of time on the football field, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t understand the scheme very well, and he doesn’t know where these guys are gonna end up at, so therefore, he’s just guessing."

Watkins' teammate, Jason Kelce, told Philly Mag that he also believes the mental aspect of the game is where Watkins needs to improve and that he's getting there.

"He’s got all the physical [tools]; he knows the techniques, he knows all that stuff. The biggest thing for him is mentally," said Jason Kelce. "He has come a long way from the first year. Now he knows all the plays. Last year he would hear a play and he would verify it: ‘Hey what do we got on this?’ Now he knows who he has."

Brian Baldinger, who played OL for a decade in the NFL, says Watkins wouldn't be the first guy with physical gifts that took some extra time to grasp the mental side.

"He’s got tremendous natural strength, but if you’re indecisive and you’re unsure, you never are just using it," Baldinger said. "Jason Peters figured out how to use his natural ability and just played lights out last year."