Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.
Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.
His ninth entry covers his continued recovery from an Achilles injury, two NFC East visits and thoughts on Florida spring practice coming to an end.
My Achilles is coming along really good right now. I’d say I’m about 90-95 percent. I can do most things on it. It’s all kind of working out for me even though it’s taking a bit longer than expected to get back to 100 percent.
If I had to go play in a game, I could definitely play and be fine afterward, but there is just more healing to do before it feels completely back to normal.
Since the week of the Pro Day, I’ve gone on two more visits to see the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.
I flew up to Philadelphia two Fridays ago and left for Washington last weekend.
The Eagles visit was like a regular recruiting trip. You check out the facilities, go through another interview with the coaches and scouts and get to know the franchise a lot better.
I got to meet head coach Chip Kelly on that visit, and we went over some defensive film so they could pick my brain and see what I can retain. They want to get a feel for how you learn and act off the football field.
I went through all the motions with Stanley Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska, who was on the trip with me, so I got to know him a little bit as well.
My visit to the Redskins was much of the same, but I can go over that in greater detail in my next entry.
While in Gainesville, I’ve been doing what I can exercise-wise with my ankle without putting too much pressure on it. Working on my technique has been key as this is a time I can get a lot better before rookie camp begins. You really do not have much time to fine tune your skills as a player because you’re in-season all the time, so it is nice to have the opportunity to actually get better.
Overall I went to about five different practices and scrimmages and really think the Gators are looking good defensively even though the secondary is young and still making some mistakes.
A lot of fans that see me ask about the offense, but I’m a defensive guy so I’ve really been watching the defense. I definitely noticed the change in tempo, though, and it should be a plus for Florida this season.
There were a lot of guys competing for positions, others working back from injury and trying to return to form. Spring is a time where you can separate yourself from the pack and get in the coaches’ minds before fall camp begins.
Even though it is difficult to win a starting job in spring, you can get yourself in the first string on the depth chart when fall begins and have every opportunity to come out on top. You want to go into fall camp with an upper hand and playing well in spring is the best way to do that.