Is Danny Watkins Really Too Old For The Steelers To Draft?

I had a feeling that as soon as I mentioned the Danny Watkins name as an example in my Steelers likely to draft the best player available post, I knew it would get a reaction. Steeler Nation is so afraid to see or hear the name Danny Watkins mentioned anywhere as a pick by the Steelers in a mock draft or even mentioned as a possibly first round target. Why you ask? Watkins is closing in on collecting Social Security. In the land of the 2011 draft class, Danny is Methuselah. I will have to check Wikipedia, but I am pretty sure Methuselah is his middle name. I could be wrong though.

OK, let\’s see exactly how old Mr. Methuselah Watkins really is and how it may or may not affect his draft status with the Steelers. First and foremost I will point out that Watkins will be 9802 days old if the 2011 season kicks off on September 8th this fall. That equates to 26 years, 10 months and 2 days on that opening Thursday NFL night. Pretty ancient for sure.

The next thing we will look at is the age of the Steelers 1st through 3rd round draft picks dating back to the 2000 draft on the first day of their rookie season. For example, Maurkice Pouncey was 7717 days old when the Saints and Vikings kicked off the 2010 season and Plaxico Burress was 8423 days old the week 1 Sunday in 2000. Get the drift? As you can see, Casey Hampton was the oldest Steelers player drafted in the first 3 rounds by the Steelers dating back to 2000. Hampton was 8772 days old when week 1 of his rookie season rolled around. Watkins would still be nearly 3 years older than that.

NT Casey Hampton 2001 1 8772 24 Years 0 Months 6 Days
WR Willie Reid 2006 3 8754 23 Years 11 Months 19 Days
G Kraig Urbik 2009 3 8753 23 Years 11 Months 18 Days
CB Bryant McFadden 2005 2 8692 23 Years 9 Months 18 Days
TE Matt Spaeth 2007 3 8687 23 Years 9 Months 13 Days
WR Limas Sweed 2008 2 8654 23 Years 8 Months 10 Days
G Kendall Simmons 2002 1 8579 23 Years 5 Months 25 Days
WR Emmanuel Sanders 2010 3 8577 23 Years 5 Months 23 Days
CB Keenan Lewis 2009 3 8517 23 Years 3 Months 24 Days
WR Mike Wallace 2009 3 8441 23 Years 1 Month 9 Days
WR Plaxico Burress 2000 1 8423 23 Years 0 Months 22 Days
WR Antwaan Randle El 2002 2 8420 23 Years 0 Months 19 Day
CB Hank Poteat 2000 3 8405 23 Years 0 Months 4 Days
LB Bruce Davis 2008 3 8403 23 Years 0 Months 2 Days
LB Alonzo Jackson 2003 2 8389 22 Years 11 Months 20 Days
DB Anthony Smith 2006 3 8388 22 Years 11 Months 18 Days
TE Heath Miller 2005 1 8357 22 Years 10 Months 17 Days
OLB LaMarr Woodley 2007 2 8342 22 Years 10 Months 3 Days
T Trai Essex 2005 3 8313 22 Years 9 Months 3 Days
T Max Starks 2004 3 8278 22 Years 7 Months 30 Days
DE Ziggy Hood 2009 1 8242 22 Years 6 Months 25 Days
QB Ben Roethlisberger 2004 1 8227 22 Years 6 Months 7 Days
OLB Jason Worilds 2010 2 8225 22 Years 6 Months 6 Days
WR Santonio Holmes 2006 1 8223 22 Years 6 Months 4 Days
CB Ricardo Colclough 2004 2 8180 22 Years 4 Months 22 Days
SS Troy Polamalu 2003 1 8173 22 Years 4 Months 16 Days
T Marvel Smith 2000 2 8064 22 Years 0 Months 28 Days
DT Kendrick Clancy 2000 3 8022 21 Years 11 Months 17 Days
DB Chris Hope 2002 3 8011 21 Years 11 Months 7 Days
ILB Lawrence Timmons 2007 1 7785 21 Years 3 Months 23 Days
RB Rashard Mendenhall 2008 1 7748 21 Years 2 Months 16 Days
LB Kendrell Bell 2001 2 7739 21 Years 2 Months 7 Days
C Maurkice Pouncey 2010 1 7717 21 Years 1 Month 16 Days

I have to admit, based on that data alone, he sure does not look like anything the Steelers would have interest in. The next step is to check under the hood of this old man to see what football mileage he has on him. Watkins played in all 22 games as freshman and sophomore at Butte Junior College in California and started all 25 games at left tackle during his Baylor career. There does not seem to be any injury history associated with him and recently joked that he does not have arthritis yet and feels pretty good.

Watkins may have played left tackle at Baylor, but he projects as a guard at the next level and is in many cases the 2nd best interior lineman in the draft behind Mike Pouncey on most of the rankings. Watkins had a great Senior Bowl week and was asked to kick inside to guard. He transitioned very smoothly and looked like a natural. Of course he could use some coaching on technique, but what young player doesn\’t. He looks like a guy who could make an immediate impact at right guard for a team that drafts him. Say by week 4 or so.

It all boils back to the age thing with Steeler Nation though. Let\’s assume he was picked in the first round. Depending on how the labor stuff plays out, there could be a rookie wage scale. It is safe to say though a player drafted in round 1 will get either a 4 or 5 year contract. Most of the fear associated with Watkins is that he could be just a one contract guy. Sure and that is a valid argument. Let\’s for the sake of the argument say that there is a rookie wage scale that limits first rounder to a four-year deal. This means that Watkins would enter the final year of his contract just shy of 30 years old and would turn 31 mid way through his last season. Let\’s now take a look at the ages of the top 20 guards as ranked by Pro Football Focus for the 2010 season and see how old each were when the 2010 season kicked off on Thursday night. 5 of those players on that list were 30 or older when the season started. That\’s 25%. Not bad. The best thing with Watkins is that he could probably be extended before he entered a final season of a four year deal. Should he be a bust, the Steelers also would benefit from it only being a four year versus five year deal. Should he get a traditional 5 year deal at least you would have that spot locked up for half a decade should he be as advertised on film and lives up to the pre draft expectations. So what if he is just a one contract draft pick. Can he help the Steelers win championships in those years is what I am concerned with.

1 LG Carl Nicks NO 9249 25 Years 3 Months 26 Days
2 RG Josh Sitton GB 8861 24 Years 3 Months 3 Days
3 LG Wade Smith HST 10728 29 Years 4 Months 14 Days
4 RG Bobbie Williams CIN 12402 33 Years 11 Months 15 Days
5 RG Harvey Dahl ATL 10669 29 Years 2 Months 16 Days
6 LG Chilo Rachal SF 8944 24 Years 5 Months 25 Days
7 LG Kris Dielman SD 10810 29 Years 7 Months 6 Days
8 LG Ben Grubbs BLT 9679 26 Years 5 Months 30 Days
9 RG Brandon Moore NYJ 11055 30 Years 3 Months 6 Days
10 LG Mike Iupati SF 8521 23 Years 3 Months 28 Days
11 LG Brian Waters KC 12256 33 Years 6 Months 22 Days
11 LG Justin Blalock ATL 9760 26 Years 8 Months 20 Days
13 RG Geoff Schwartz CAR 8826 24 Years 1 Month 29 Days
14 RG Leonard Davis DAL 11692 32 Years 0 Months 4 Days
15 LG Richie Incognito MIA 9928 27 Years 2 Months 4 Days
16 RG Ryan Lilja KC 10556 28 Years 10 Months 25 Days
17 LG Jacob Bell SL 10783 29 Years 6 Months 7 Days
18 LG Rich Seubert NYG 11486 31 Years 5 Months 10 Days
19 RG Chris Chester BLT 10102 27 Years 7 Months 28 Days
20 RG Chris Snee NYG 10461 28 Years 7 Months 22 Days

Let\’s summarize. Watkins in many opinions is the 2nd best interior lineman in the draft and the Steelers could indeed consider the right guard position some what of a need after shuffling Trai Essex, Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster at the spot in 2010. Watkins played tackle in college so he certainly would have some position flexibility. He certainly looks good on tape and is an all around mature older kid that has interviewed well according to reports. He looks and sounds like a guy that could contribute pretty quickly in his rookie season. He might be a one and a half contract guy and I do not think that should scare the Steelers off even though he would be the oldest draft pick in 11 years. Now in no way am I saying that Watkins will be the pick at #31 for the Steelers, but I am certainly not ready to rule him out just on age alone. He looks like the real deal though and time will tell. Perhaps Methuselah Watkins knows Father Time.

ETA: Fixed the Pouncey numbers which I carried over wrong.

  • dave

    I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a Watkins “hater” but the age issue does concern me. I’d rather have a guy in the “normal” 21-23 age range, all else being equal. With Watkins, if you’re the Steeers, you’d have to be very confident he’d contribute right away. He doesn’t have the luxury of “learning the system” for a year or 2 like a Lawrence Timmons who was under 21 on draft day. The clock is ticking right away on him…
    But…if Colbert/Tomlin decide they like him a lot and think he has the maturity, intelligence, skills, etc to start right away and upgrade the RG position, I can’t complain too much, they know what they’re doing…

  • Goose

    Maurkice Pouncey is only 21 right now, he turns 22 on July, so there is no way he was 22 when the season started a couple months ago. Quite the contrary, he had only been 21 for 2 months.

  • Dave Bryan

    Fixed the Pouncey error. Transcribed the numbers wrong. Carry on!