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Eagles All-22 Film Review: There is upside with Quez Watkins

What exactly can be made of Philadelphia’s young speedster?

Washington Football Team v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Another week, another player film review. I am only going to do one or two more before we can start really getting into free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft. This was an interesting one because I feel like a lot of people have different opinions on Quez Watkins... let’s get to it!

Stats/Scheme Notes

- Total PFF grade of 68. Ranks 61st out of all WRs.

- Played 571 snaps in the slot, 235 out wide. 462 yards from the slot, 185 out wide.

- Final stats for the season, 43 receptions, 647 yards, 1 TD, 15.0 AVG.

- 260 yards after catch.

- 8/20 on 20+ throws, 334 yards, 41.8 Y/Rec. 17th most in the league.

- 9/16 on 10-19 throws, 170 yards, 18.9 Y/Rec.

- 17/20 on 0-9 throws, 116 yards, 6.8 Y/Rec.

- 11/12 behind LOS, 62 yards, 5.6 Y/Rec, 1 TD.

More advanced… minimum 20% snaps

- 66% of targets caught, ranked #1 out of Eagles WRs (Smith at 61%). Ranks 49th in the league.

- 15.2 yards per reception, ranked 12th in the league.

- 8/15 contested catches, 53.3% rate. 33rd best in the league.

- 1.51 yards per route run, #2 amongst Eagles WRs (Smith at 1.73, Reagor at 0.62… lol). Ranked 56th in the league.

- 1 drop - 2.2% drop rate. 7th best in the league!

I find it very difficult to know how PFF call ‘man’ v ‘zone’ but anyway…

- VS man coverage. 17/24, 326 yards, 19.2 Y/Rec. Yards ranks 21st in league and above DeVonta Smith who had 273 yards on 29 targets.

- VS zone coverage. 24/39, 336 yards, 14.0 Y/Rec. Yards rank 55th in the league, way below DeVonta Smith who had 647 yards on 73 targets.

Strengths

+ Elite speed. One of the very fastest in the league. Playmaker when the ball is in his hands (however, wasn’t used much in the screen game this year)

Who can forget this preseason gem?

+ Best route is a deep over route from the seam. Has fantastic speed and can get vertical quickly. The Chiefs run this route with Tyreek Hill a lot and it is a fantastic way of taking advantage of 2-high looks that more teams are running.

Good intermediate route runner. Can win in deep in and outs. Rarely saw any deep outs throughout the second half of the season though.

+ Pretty good at contested catches despite his size. Has the ability to come back to the ball and ‘climb the ladder’ to highpoint the ball

+ A very good deep threat. Has breakaway speed and can take the top of the defense at any time. Has elite speed.

Weaknesses

- Lacks nuance on shorter routes, doesn’t do a good enough job selling the deep routes or closing the gap between himself and the cornerback. Straight line fast but not the quickest in an out of his breaks, has some hip tightness.

Slot to the right here.

- Doesn’t have the frame or size to run a lot of quick game stuff, such as slants, curls etc. Contact affects him and nearly all his best plays come from having a free release. Struggles when facing contact.

- Not his fault, but played in an offense that asked him to do a very simple job. Did not run a variety of routes and was never heavily targeted. Only game he had more than 4 catches was the week 18 game vs Cowboys that doesn’t really count…

- No touchdowns except that week 18 game. Doesn’t have the size to make a different in the Red Zone.

Overall

Quez Watkins is a very fast receiver who can take the top on the defense and will provide an offense with a very good vertical dimension. He has game breaking speed and is always a threat to hit on a huge play. As well as this, he is good in contested situations and has very good hands. He is slightly limited as a player and can’t run a full route tree or be used in the short game consistently due to a lack of size and ability to fight through contact, but he has the ability be a good WR2/3 and should be used largely in the slot to get him away from contact as much as possible. He has also flashed the ability to create YAC in the short game but he has not received many opportunities to show this consistently.

The Future

This is a really tricky evaluation due to the nature of the Eagles offense. Jalen Hurts doesn’t excel with the deep ball and the targets were not there for Quez Watkins due to the amount they ran the ball. If the Eagles threw more than had a better deep ball quarterback (Russell Wilson anyone?) then I would expect his numbers to be better. I do feel like the Eagles coaching staff didn’t give him enough opportunities in the screen game last year and I would love them to find more ways to take advantage of his speed. However, you also have to assume the coaches know what they are doing and there could be a reason why he was not targeted more last year. I think the staff see him as a ‘game breaker’ rather than a volume receiver.

Personally, I think he is slightly limited due to his frame and his ability to play through contact and I would rather he was the Eagles WR3 rather than WR2. I think he is better in the slot too and in the modern NFL, you simply cannot have enough vertical options in a passing offense. I think he will have a significant role in the offense next year, even if the Eagles go out and sign a big bodied X receiver (a D.J. Chark type) which I think they should do. This is nothing personal against Quez, I would just feel better with another serious option at receiver outside of DeVonta Smith.

Obviously it is impossible to predict, but I think Quez Watkins has the talent to be a 600-900 yard receiver if the offense threw the ball more and gave him more opportunities. He really is seriously fast and has really good hands. There is always a place for a player with his skill set in the NFL right now. Regardless of your opinion on his upside, there is absolutely no doubt that he was an absolutely fantastic pick in the 6th round just 2 years ago. I preferred him coming out to John Hightower due to his hands and game breaking speed that showed up on tape more often than it did with Hightower.

I hope he gets more opportunities next year and I do think there is upside with Quez Watkins that we have not seen yet due to the quarterback and identity of the offense this past season.