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Watkins Earns All-Rookie Team Honor

Posted Jan 17, 2012

The Eagles were aggressive in filling one of their primary needs last offseason when they selected guard Danny Watkins with the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. That selection paid immediate dividends as Watkins was named to Pro Football Weekly's All-Rookie Team.

Watkins was the fifth offensive lineman and second interior lineman selected in the draft. He started each of the final 12 games of the season and helped running back LeSean McCoy set the franchise single-season touchdown record. The Eagles, as a team, set franchise records for most total net yards and first downs.

"It's been a steady increase in progress," Watkins said late in the season. "Each week was getting better and better and better. Learning something new, getting more confident."

Watkins was one of the most remarkable stories prior to the draft. Born and raised in British Columbia, Watkins didn't pick up the game of football until he was a 22-year-old firefighter at a junior college. He transferred to Baylor in 2009 where he replaced All-American and former first-round pick Jason Smith and went on to earn All-Big 12 honors as a senior.

Watkins was penciled in to be the opening day starter at right guard, but the Eagles acquired veteran Kyle DeVan off waivers after the final roster cutdown. DeVan played for new Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd in Indianapolis and served as a mentor to Watkins and fellow rookie center Jason Kelce.

"He's an encyclopedia of knowledge," Watkins said of Mudd. "I want to be a sponge and just learn as much as I can from him because he's been around the block once or twice."

The Eagles put Watkins back in the starting lineup for the Week 5 clash in Buffalo and never looked back. Watkins and Kelce became the first rookie duo in Eagles history to start at least 12 games along the offensive line. The Eagles earned the Madden Protectors Award for top offensive line of the week twice with Watkins in the starting lineup - vs. Dallas and at the New York Giants.

The emergence of Watkins helped the offensive line become one of the bright spots for the Eagles in this 2011 season. But with the Eagles looking to improve their 8-8 mark from this past season, don't expect Watkins to feel settled after this award.

"I'm not getting complacent with anything," he said.

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