The NFL Draft is one of the most exciting events of the year. It’s where superstars are born, franchises take shape and new eras begin. But for every future legend that finds their way into the league, there are those who for whatever reason, are unable to live up to their potential.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a very strong draft history, but it’s not perfect. In fact, one of the biggest so-called busts of all time was drafted back in the first round of 2011. That man was an offensive guard, Danny Watkins. But why did this pick turn out to be one of the most confusing selections of all time? Who was to blame? What really went on?
We need to go way back to begin finding our answer. A native of West Kelowna, British Colombia, Watkins spent most of his childhood playing rugby and hockey. His intimidating size lent itself perfectly to defensive duties but although athletically gifted, Watkins’ heart was elsewhere…
At age 16, he became a junior firefighter, the first West Kelowna had ever seen. Watkins was besotted with the idea of becoming a firefighter and took some time after High School to begin pursuing his dream, instead of going straight to college.
According to numerous stories, Watkins would help fight fires by day and actually stay overnight in the local firehouse, building a brotherhood with his firefighters. His captain at the time then suggested that Watkins study fire sciences at Butte, the same JUCO as attended by none other Aaron Rodgers.
Watkins did exactly that, but it didn’t take long for football coaches to take a shine to the 6’4, 290 lbs, kid who had never previously played the sport. Craig Rigsbee, the team’s athletic director, had this to say about Watkins:
“He had great feet, he had great hands, he really bent his knees well, he had great balance, things you can’t teach,” Rigsbee said. “A lot of times in athletics, you either have it or you don’t.”
Watkins certainly had ‘it’ but he knew very little of football as a whole, let alone fundamentals of playing offensive line. But over the course of the next two seasons, Watkins began to draw an abundance of attention from larger schools, helping Butte win a Division III national championship in 2008.
Continued on the pages below.