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.

POSPlayerYEARROUNDWEEK 1 DAYS OLDYEARS/MONTHS/DAYS
NTCasey Hampton20011877224 Years 0 Months 6 Days
WRWillie Reid20063875423 Years 11 Months 19 Days
GKraig Urbik20093875323 Years 11 Months 18 Days
CBBryant McFadden20052869223 Years 9 Months 18 Days
TEMatt Spaeth20073868723 Years 9 Months 13 Days
WRLimas Sweed20082865423 Years 8 Months 10 Days
GKendall Simmons20021857923 Years 5 Months 25 Days
WREmmanuel Sanders20103857723 Years 5 Months 23 Days
CBKeenan Lewis20093851723 Years 3 Months 24 Days
WRMike Wallace20093844123 Years 1 Month 9 Days
WRPlaxico Burress20001842323 Years 0 Months 22 Days
WRAntwaan Randle El20022842023 Years 0 Months 19 Day
CBHank Poteat20003840523 Years 0 Months 4 Days
LBBruce Davis20083840323 Years 0 Months 2 Days
LBAlonzo Jackson20032838922 Years 11 Months 20 Days
DBAnthony Smith20063838822 Years 11 Months 18 Days
TEHeath Miller20051835722 Years 10 Months 17 Days
OLBLaMarr Woodley20072834222 Years 10 Months 3 Days
TTrai Essex20053831322 Years 9 Months 3 Days
TMax Starks20043827822 Years 7 Months 30 Days
DEZiggy Hood20091824222 Years 6 Months 25 Days
QBBen Roethlisberger20041822722 Years 6 Months 7 Days
OLBJason Worilds20102822522 Years 6 Months 6 Days
WRSantonio Holmes20061822322 Years 6 Months 4 Days
CBRicardo Colclough20042818022 Years 4 Months 22 Days
SSTroy Polamalu20031817322 Years 4 Months 16 Days
TMarvel Smith20002806422 Years 0 Months 28 Days
DTKendrick Clancy20003802221 Years 11 Months 17 Days
DBChris Hope20023801121 Years 11 Months 7 Days
ILBLawrence Timmons20071778521 Years 3 Months 23 Days
RBRashard Mendenhall20081774821 Years 2 Months 16 Days
LBKendrell Bell20012773921 Years 2 Months 7 Days
CMaurkice Pouncey20101771721 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.

RANKPOSPLAYERTEAMWEEK 1 DAYS OLDYears/Months/Days
1LGCarl NicksNO924925 Years 3 Months 26 Days
2RGJosh SittonGB886124 Years 3 Months 3 Days
3LGWade SmithHST1072829 Years 4 Months 14 Days
4RGBobbie WilliamsCIN1240233 Years 11 Months 15 Days
5RGHarvey DahlATL1066929 Years 2 Months 16 Days
6LGChilo RachalSF894424 Years 5 Months 25 Days
7LGKris DielmanSD1081029 Years 7 Months 6 Days
8LGBen GrubbsBLT967926 Years 5 Months 30 Days
9RGBrandon MooreNYJ1105530 Years 3 Months 6 Days
10LGMike IupatiSF852123 Years 3 Months 28 Days
11LGBrian WatersKC1225633 Years 6 Months 22 Days
11LGJustin BlalockATL976026 Years 8 Months 20 Days
13RGGeoff SchwartzCAR882624 Years 1 Month 29 Days
14RGLeonard DavisDAL1169232 Years 0 Months 4 Days
15LGRichie IncognitoMIA992827 Years 2 Months 4 Days
16RGRyan LiljaKC1055628 Years 10 Months 25 Days
17LGJacob BellSL1078329 Years 6 Months 7 Days
18LGRich SeubertNYG1148631 Years 5 Months 10 Days
19RGChris ChesterBLT1010227 Years 7 Months 28 Days
20RGChris SneeNYG1046128 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.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • 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!