The Eagles starting slot wide receiver is probably going to be Quez Watkins or Olamide Zacchaeus. With that in mind, I thought I would look at some film and stats from last season and determine who I think should be the starter, based on last season.
Numbers via player profiler...
The numbers tell you that Zaccheaus had a far more efficient season than Quez Watkins. The big numbers that stand out to me are the yards per route run, target separation, and average target distance. I know numbers are a product of your offense and your quarterback, but Quez Watkins played on a far superior offense, and Zaccheaus looks letter in every metric. Let’s take a look at their 2022 seasons and compare the two. I watched a lot of Quez Watkins prior to this season, and I was really disappointed by how he played this past year. I think he is a better player than he showed last year, but the film is the film!
+ Best route is a deep over route from the seam. He excels at this.
This is a dime. Cross country dagger to the right with Quez Watkins and AJ Brown. Quez wins against man coverage and Hurts delivers a strike. I thought Quez played really well this game and stepped up as the 3rd receiving option. This is another excellent timing throw. pic.twitter.com/xjPrtsxlLO— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 22, 2022
+ Really good speed. One of the fastest in the league. He has the speed to get vertical and run away from defenders.
Will have a film room on Quez Watkins in the near future... What do we think his upside is? pic.twitter.com/MhTPg13I4e— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 18, 2022
+ He flashed the ability to climb the ladder and win in contested situations in 2021. He shows he can catch the ball and extend away from his body on vertical routes
Phew. What a ball. Excellent blitz by the Giants who drop both edge defenders in their 5 man front and bring a safety and linebacker late. They get a free rusher but Hurts just stands there and delivers an absolute beauty to Quez Watkins on the out route. This is just so good. pic.twitter.com/W69ORnKpL3— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 13, 2022
Quez Watkins has really stepped up since Goedert has gone out. He's been excellent 2 weeks in a row. This is a fantastic throw by Hurts. Puts it perfectly on the back shoulder and the timing from Hurts/Watkins is outstanding. Perfect read and spot throw from Hurts. Love it. pic.twitter.com/gX9GLAXoAJ— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 29, 2022
- 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. He is awful at coming back to the football.
#13 Someone get a message to the staff, please stop throwing short routes to Quez Watkins. Please. It's a really poor route and it's nearly another INT. This can cost this team in the playoffs if they do it again. When the margins are fine, you can't make errors. pic.twitter.com/Q01xzXne9A— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 3, 2023
#4 Same Hi-Lo play (different formation) that led to a huge play to Smith last week. Cowboys Tampa 2 is perfect against this play and Minshew is far too late to check it down. Quez doesn't come back to the ball and gets bullied at the catch point. Good defense, bad offense. pic.twitter.com/k96jMyOThb— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2022
- Seemed to have a few mental mistakes down the stretch, such as running some poor routes.
#8 I'm not in the WR room, but I'm convinced this is on Quez and not Hurts. The motion to 4x1 concept shows man and Quez should be open on the deep over with loads of space to run into. He drifts way too far upfield and doesn't get his head around. I think this is a bad route. pic.twitter.com/Yh3P2FwsA9— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
- He had a disaster catching the football down the stretch last year. He just kept dropping balls that he shouldn't have.
#13 I think Hurts should probably throw this to AJB if he's the 1st read... But it takes nothing away from the throw. This is elite! Eagles screw up the protection (again - Sanders/Goedert take the same defender) and the MIKE comes through unblocked. Quez HAS to catch this. pic.twitter.com/6kfDq883EV— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 14, 2023
- 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.
#14 Double slants vs 2man. Quez doesn't win his route, gets bullied at the catch point and it results in an interception. The throw and decision are fine but Quez must do better. Credit the DB who makes a fantastic play on the ball. pic.twitter.com/kxFR0u5dXJ— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2022
+ He has really good short area burst and quickness. He is pretty good at the line of scrimmage actually and was much better at beating cornerbacks quickly at the LOS than I expected.
He was better at the LOS than I expected. He's a slot guy, but he has some good reps where he uses his quickness to avoid contact at the LOS. He's effective on quick slants and again, I can imagine him running backside slants on RPOs. pic.twitter.com/WKeWjSrO8s— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) May 31, 2023
+ Runs some really impressive short/intermediate routes where his quickness is on show. He runs really good comebacks, slants, and quick outs.
He's really clean on these short hitches and curl routes. He's a different profile to what the Eagles have currently and I can imagine him running a lot of quick hitches on RPOs on a 3rd and short. pic.twitter.com/fN41MzNnYi— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) May 31, 2023
Very late Olamide Zaccheaus quick thread... He was often used in motion to help him avoid contact at the LOS. He can create separation and is good in the short/intermediate areas. He had a different role to Quez Watkins who was more of a field stretcher for the Eagles. pic.twitter.com/uWAVbHfSqr— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) May 31, 2023
+ His college reports state that he has terrible hands, but I didn’t see it on film. He can pluck the ball away from his body and seems comfortable catching in traffic too.
I know all his college reports say he has terrible hands, but I didn't notice it on film. He seemed comfortable catching with bodies around him and I didn't notice any major issues with drops. He does sometimes body catch which may cause him issues, but nothing seemed awful. pic.twitter.com/FMKP1KKKxP— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) May 31, 2023
I expected more of a deep threat, but I came away more impressed with him in the short game than anything else. His quickness is really useful on these kind of plays on 3rd and short. His short area quickness and burst can be tough to cover, especially when he is in motion. pic.twitter.com/XyBKByC2xm— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) May 31, 2023
+ Has the quickness to break tackles after the catch, especially on shorter routes.
Look at the quickness after the catch too. I think he's really useful on these shorter routes because of his availability to make somebody miss in the open field. He is quick rather than fast imo. pic.twitter.com/rQxHdenGpy— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) May 31, 2023
Here's another example of him winning at the LOS, this time on the outside and with good use of his hands. He's always a threat to make a defender miss and pick up a few extra yards after the catch too. pic.twitter.com/JqFa1B6CmM— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) May 31, 2023
- He’s small at only 5’8. Just simply isn’t going to win in contested situations and he gives the quarterback a very small margin of error.
- He’s fast, but I don’t think he’s a vertical burner. He doesn’t have that speed to run away from defensive backs on deeper routes as consistently has Quez Watkins.
He can absolutely get vertical, but I think Quez is a better deep threat overall. Zaccheaus isn't as much of a vertical burner and I didn't see that extra gear that really good deep threats have. He's quick rather than fast. pic.twitter.com/ML5GZ6XFdk— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) May 31, 2023
I don’t know if this is a surprise to anyone or not, but I think Zaccheaus and Quez Watkins are completely different profiles. I think Watkins is much more of a field stretcher, a vertical receiver who can stretch the field with go routes and deep over routes, and Zaccheaus is a lot better in the short game. I actually think they could both have a role next year if they play well throughout the offseason and could both feature in different weeks depending on the game plan.
I don’t really understand what happened to Quez Watkins down the stretch last year. I know he suffered a shoulder injury towards the end of the season, and I wonder if that affected him quite a bit. Personally, I think Quez has a slightly higher ceiling than Zaccheaus because he has more vertical juice in his game. However, I can’t forget some of the drops that he had down the stretch, and his play in the short game was awful and it really cost the Eagles. He became almost unplayable towards the end of last season.
If we see the same Quez Watkins that we saw down the stretch, I think this job will go to Zaccheaus and he will have a more productive season and have more playing time. If Watkins can return to 2021 form, I think his ability to really get down the field and his size means he could be in for a bounce-back season. At the very least, Zaccheaus provides the Eagles with a wide receiver #4 and provides legitimate competition for Watkins who did not have any last year and continued to play, despite his poor play.