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.
Watkins’s 11th entry covers his final workout, return home and plans for the draft.
Before I was able to leave Gainesville, I had to stick around last weekend for one more private workout. My Achilles felt great and did not give me any issues, so I definitely think I reassured them that I am healthy entering the draft. They wanted to see me plant and drive on my ankle because I could not do that well at the Pro Day, but the scouts and defensive backs coach were both pleased with how I performed last Friday.
Even though I left town, my lease runs through December and I am thinking about keeping my apartment long-term. I like Gainesville and I could definitely see myself coming back, especially during the offseason.
On my way home to Fort Myers, Florida, I stopped off in Orlando to see my dad and some other members of my family. I was in Gainesville for so long, flying around and everything, that I took the time to just relax and catch up with all of them. I finally got home Sunday afternoon and have really been taking it easy.
Outside of teams calling me to check my contact information for draft day, things have been quiet overall. There are a pretty good number of teams that have expressed serious interest in me and think I fit what they are trying to do. I would say maybe 10-12 teams really like how I’m playing and think I can help them this season.
I believe I have a solid mindset entering the draft. If you worry about too much – when you’ll be picked and where you’ll be drafted – it will drive you crazy.
Wherever I get drafted, I just hope it schematically is the best fit for me because that provides the opportunity for me to succeed somewhere long-term. It would probably be better to be selected later by a team that is a perfect fit than early somewhere else with a system that I cannot succeed in as easily.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins are two teams where I feel like their systems fit me very well. A number of other teams I met with – outside of all the ones I detailed here – asked that I not talk about our meetings, so I have to respect those requests. You will some additional information here on OnlyGators.com if one of those teams winds up selecting me.
My plans for the draft are just like me, very low-key. I will be watching just like every other year, probably at home with some family and friends.
It’s going to be a little more interesting this year. [Laughing] It will be like a normal draft day, but it will be cool to see some guys I played with at Florida, trained with for the draft in South Florida, or worked out with during high school camps, the Army All-American game, the Senior Bowl and during the NFL Combine.
As a four-year player, I have gone through the same process as many of these guys and we are all reaching this point together, even if the journey was different for each of us.
I do not have any plans for after I get picked. I’m sure I will go out to dinner or hang out with friends and celebrate. But I’m not one to go out to the club and get VIP. I’m more laid back than that.
I’m ready for Thursday. I want to see where my brother [Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins] gets drafted. Thursday is also a big day for me to see how many cornerbacks get drafted in the first round. It’s time for it to hurry up and get here.
I’m excited. I’m anxious.
You cannot really complain about being drafted. I think a lot of people get the wrong idea of, “I don’t want to get drafted by this team” or “I don’t want to be drafted late.”
We’re going to be drafted. That’s a big opportunity. And I’m ready for it.
PART I – Post-college training
PART II – Senior Bowl preparation
PART III – Senior Bowl participation
PART IV: – Injury and rehabilitation
PART V: – NFL Combine preparation
PART VI: – NFL Combine participation I
PART VII: – NFL Combine participation II
PART VIII: – Returning to Gainesville, Pro Day preparation
PART IX: – Pro Day participation
PART X: – Team visits
PART XI: – More team visits, Sammy Watkins