Danny Watkins is arguably the best interior lineman prospect in this year’s draft. His performance during Senior Bowl week was nothing less than dominant and he showed the raw ability to get even better in the NFL. So why isn’t he considered a first round prospect? He’s going to turn 27 this November.
The NFL Draft is an event in which teams can improve themselves by infusing new youthful talent into their roster. Or is it just talent? If age is a factor, there must be a point in time in which the value of a player exceeds the negatives of their age. On that same train of thought, is there a point in which a player is too young?
If a team drafts a player that is too young, they could be taking a risk on the development and the maturity of the player. Through two drafts, Gene Smith appears to be a general manager that greatly factors age into his draft picks.
Here is a chart of every player Gene Smith has drafted and their age on draft day:
Not a single player drafted by Gene Smith’s Jaguars during the first three rounds have been younger than 21 years and six months or older than 23 years. That’s a pretty small, 18 month range that he’s picking from.
It isn’t until the later rounds that the age of the players drafted finally rose. While only 15 players drafted is a small sample size, it’s probably not a coincidence that the younger players have been drafted earlier by Smith and the older players later.
Projecting the Jaguars to draft a 23 year old with their 1st round pick isn’t automatically a dumb thing to do because that wouldn’t be an outrageous departure from his usual trend. But to expect him to draft a player like the 26 year old Watkins is probably unrealistic.