Former first-round pick Danny Watkins signed with the Miami Dolphins hoping a change of scenery benefits him after being released Saturday by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Watkins, the 23rd pick in the 2011 draft out of Baylor, started 18 games in Philadelphia but went unclaimed via waivers when he was released over the weekend.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said last week that the first-round pick label didn't do Watkins any favors. He wasn't a great fit in Howard Mudd's disciplined blocking scheme under coach Andy Reid and failed to carve a niche in coach Chip Kelly's first preseason.
Watkins, 28, was the oldest first-round pick since 1980. He went to Baylor, but only after the Canandian took a circuitous route to Waco. He first played football at Butte Junior College, where he enrolled because of the school's fire science program but was asked to join the team because of his size.
Entering the Senior Bowl, Watkins, an offensive tackle at Baylor, had never played inside at guard. The Eagles liked his strength and mobility and wanted to address their interior offensive line.
"Part of his personality -- you talk about him being a firefighter -- is that he feels he has to save people. He put a lot of pressure on himself. He couldn't just go out and play," Roseman said. "Getting away from 'Danny Watkins, the first round pick' and just being 'Danny Watkins' will really help him."
The Dolphins waived guard Josh Samuda to create a spot on the 53-man roster for Watkins.
"I think when you talk about Danny, a change of scenery was necessary for him," Roseman said.
The Dolphins have had good fortune with reclamation projects on the offensive line, including guard Richie Incognito, who was released by the St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills before finding a niche with Miami. Incognito is an enforcer at left guard and a key cog in the team's running game.
Watkins brings depth at guard, where the Dolphins lost John Jerry to a knee injury. the only other pure guard on the roster is rookie third-round pick Dallas Thomas.
The Eagles' 2011 draft class took another hit with Watkins' release. Last year, they released their '11 second-round pick, safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, after just one year. Now, they have officially thrown in the towel on their first-round pick that year, Watkins.
Cornerback Curtis Marsh, their '11 third-round pick, has taken just 75 snaps in his first two NFL seasons and is hanging on to a roster spot by his fingernails.
Watkins' contract included a fully guaranteed salary of more than $1 million, which is the reason he passed through waivers unclaimed. He was owed a total of $1.8 million for 2013, including bonuses, per the terms of his rookie deal.