PHILADELPHIA -- There's no denying the confidence Quez Watkins has on a football field. The numbers may not demonstrate it, but Watkins thinks very highly of himself and what he brings to the table.
This is the attitude to survive in the NFL. Watkins has it, which is needed as he fights to keep a job he's had the last few years.
"I'm an elite receiver," Watkins said after training camp practice Tuesday. "I feel like after this year and years to come, I'm going to put that on display."
Watkins had a much-maligned season in 2022, leading the Eagles to bring in Olamide Zaccheaus to compete with him for the No. 3 wide receiver job. He's been backing up that talk through four training camp practices, showcasing excellent tracking of the football and showcasing his ability to get open in 1-on-1 drills.
This is a crucial year for Watkins. He knows what's at stake.
"We in year four," Watkins said. "It's crunch time. Honestly, I'm in that mindset: I'm elite. I'm one of the ones you should be working with."
Watkins has been at arms length ahead of Zacchaeus for the third wide receiver job in camp. He's been embracing the competition, determined to have the same success A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith had last year. Watkins admitted he had a bad year, yet is determined to rectify it.
"This is the big leagues. You gotta play ball." Watkins said. "It's not about what you did last year, the year before. It's what you're doing now."
Watkins didn't provide the explosive plays as frequently as in years past, while becoming a liability on the field (he was bothered by a shoulder injury at the end of last year). He was responsible for a Jalen Hurts interception in Week 15 against the Chicago Bears and two of Gardner Minshew's interceptions in a Week 16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, plays which Watkins either ran a poor route or didn't fight hard enough for the ball.
Then there was the fumble in Week 10 against the Washington Commanders that cost the Eagles points in an eventual loss. The final nail in the coffin was the Super Bowl drop which Watkins misread Jalen Hurts' deep ball and failed to come up with the reception. The Eagles hit a field goal later in the drive, but that drop would have have been a touchdown in what was then a 24-21 Eagles' lead (the Eagles lost 38-35).
That was the last time Watkins was on the field. This offseason, the Eagles are seeing a different version of Watkins.
"Quez has done a great job," Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said. "He's highly, highly motivated. He's obviously very, very talented, and that group in general, as with a lot of groups, this being the third year of the offense, there's a level of confidence that comes with knowing exactly what to do, knowing the adjustments that need to happen before they even happen. Quez has been no different."
The Eagles believe in Watkins and what he can add to an already explosive offense. Watkins heard all the hate on social media and used that as fuel for this year. He's determined to prove a lot of people wrong.
"I always keep a chip on my shoulder," Watkins said. "But coming off last season, I definitely got one."