Round 4 – No. 101
Jaylen Watkins, CB
Height: 5’11” – Weight: 194 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior
The most underrated and often overlooked of the three Florida Gators cornerbacks eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft, Jaylen Watkins spent the entire offseason working as hard as possible to improve his long-term projection in the eyes of league decision makers. That hard work paid off on Saturday when Watkins was selected first among Florida’s corners as the Philadelphia Eagles chose him at No. 101, the first pick of the fourth round.
Watkins ascension began with his play in Senior Bowl practices (he missed the game due to an Achilles injury), continued at the NFL Combine when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds and reached its peak during team interviews as he impressed scouts, coaches and general managers with his high football IQ, tremendous character and obvious maturity.
His versatility is particularly attractive as Watkins can play outside, nickel, dime and safety. He has fluid hips and great change-of-direction and even learned to become a better tackler in 2013 when starting at safety for UF, checking in third on the team with 52 takedowns last season.
Watkins, who started 28 of the 48 games he played but saw starter’s time in most other contests, pinpointed the Eagles as an ideal landing spot. He wrote in his OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blog that he feels like their system fits him very well.
The first Gators cornerback selected since Joe Haden in 2010, Watkins is the 13th Florida player chosen by Philadelphia since 1954 and the first since wide receiver Riley Cooper in 2010. A starter for the Eagles, Cooper will join Watkins on the roster in 2014.
— Jaylen Watkins (@jwat14) May 10, 2014