Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Pro Day

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 eighth entry was submitted shortly after his participation in Pro Day in Gainesville, FL. Watkins also began private meetings and workouts.

Heading into Pro Day, I was hoping to be 100 percent recovered from my Achillles injury. I felt good that day, good enough to do the broad jump, vertical jump, shuttle drills and on-field work, which I did not anticipate doing all of those heading into the day. I ended up aggravating it doing those activities, and it definitely started bothering me, but I got some good notes back on how I performed.

The weather played a factor, too. It was nasty last year but dried up before the guys got out on the field. We didn’t know what to expect. The earlier part of the day, looking outside, it was pouring and we didn’t expect to go outside at all. I know it was rough for Marcus [Roberson] and Loucheiz [Purifoy] and the rest of the guys having to run on the indoor track and having things off-schedule. “Out of all the days, it had to rain this day.” You know? It was warm the day before, right after it cleared up as well. But just for it to happen like that was a stroke of bad luck for all of us.

Before Pro Day even began, the night before, I had my first meeting since the combine and linked up with the Indianapolis Colts at the Florida football facility. It was very similar to all of my other meetings. We went over film, got to know each other and they picked my brain on some things over about 20-30 minutes.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Pro Day

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FOUR BITS: Spikes, Murphy, Wright, Tebow

1 » Linebacker Brandon Spikes became the third former Florida Gators football player to find a new home this offseason when he agreed to a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in late March. Spikes is guaranteed just $900,000 (his signing bonus) as part of the deal, which has a base salary of $1.25 million and an additional $1.1 million available via bonuses. he can also earn up to $250,000 through incentives. Though Spikes was a favorite of New England owner Robert Kraft, he did not enjoy his time with the Patriots. Especially bothersome to Spikes was the fact that he played injured the entire 2013 season and was suddenly placed on injury reserve before a playoff game despite not suffering a setback. Now Spikes will be able to go head-to-head with his former team as he is on another squad in the AFC East.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Spikes, Murphy, Wright, Tebow

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SIX BITS: NFL, Rainey, Beal, Rosario, track

1 » In addition to Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Rainey (who is expected to be released from his contract) and Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson (a restricted free agent), six other former Florida Gators currently under contract with NFL teams will be unrestricted free agents the day after the Super Bowl. Those players include Atlanta Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Louis Murphy, Kansas City Chiefs LB Brandon Siler, Oakland Raiders guard Cooper Carlisle, Pittsburgh tackle Max Starks and Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman.

On rosters for Super Bowl XLVII are San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald and Baltimore Ravens WR Deonte Thompson. The end result and may very well come down to which quarterback stands out and makes as few mistakes as possible.

2 » Speaking of Rainey, the former Gators running back had his recent simple battery charge reduced to disorderly conduct by Alachua County Judge Walter Green after the State Attorney’s Office decided it did not have enough evidence to pursue the more serious offense. The judge withheld adjudication and fined Rainey $200 to go along with court costs of $300 for the offense, effectively ending the legal issue, according to Florida Today. The alleged victim in the case denied that Rainey hit her the day after his arrest and contradicting statements from witnesses made the state’s case inconclusive. The Steelers announced the day of Rainey’s arrest that they had decided to waive him; however, NFL transactions made during the postseason cannot be completed until after the Super Bowl. With the charges being significantly reduced, Pittsburgh could theoretically have a change of heart or consider bringing Rainey back on a cheaper free agent contract.

Check out four more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: NFL, Rainey, Beal, Rosario, track

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WR Louis Murphy traded to Carolina Panthers

Former Florida Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy has been traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional seventh-round pick, according to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports and Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Murphy, who performed well during his first two seasons with Oakland after being selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, ran into some health issues in 2011 and caught just 15 passes for 241 yards in 11 games as a reserve last year.

He hauled in 34 balls for 521 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie in 2009 and had 41 receptions for 609 yards with two scores in 2010.

Murphy was not guaranteed to earn a roster spot this season as the Raiders have steadily been upgrading their receivers. He is set to earn $1.26 million in the final year of his contract, which made him an attractive trade piece.

With the Panthers, Murphy will catch passes from former Florida teammate quarterback Cam Newton and has the opportunity to compete for a spot as one of the team’s top receivers behind veteran Steve Smith.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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TWO BITS: Weis checks in, Tebow-Fox future

1 » With National Signing Day fast approaching and the Kansas City Chiefs eliminated from the playoffs, new Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is officially on the job as of Friday. Currently in South Florida at Dwyer High School visiting four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett (West Palm Beach, FL) [and possibly four-star linebacker Curt Maggitt (West Palm Beach, FL), too], Weis plans to set foot in Gainesville, FL this weekend as a number of prominent recruits will be visiting the University of Florida campus. In addition to speaking with recruits, Weis will also be trying to convince redshirt junior QB John Brantley (and perhaps other offensive players) to stick with the Gators and the new coaching staff.

Uncommitted recruits visiting Florida this weekend include five-star LB Curtis Grant (Richmond, VA) and three-star LB Denzel Perryman (Coral Gables, FL).

2 » Though there were concerns about whether or not a new head coach would believe in Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow as his future starter, those questions seem to have been put to rest (at least temporarily) with the hiring of John Fox. In addition Fox speaking highly of Tebow before the 2010 NFL Draft, the Denver Post reports that Tebow is still in his good graces. “He’s got a lot of intangibles I look for,” Fox said Wednesday. “Where that goes it’s hard to predict. He’s in a developmental stage for sure, but I think he has the makings to be as good as he wants to be.” Perhaps even better news for Tebow is that his offensive coordinator last season, Mike McCoy is expected to be retained as he has a long history coaching under Fox. Though he is drawing interest from other teams, McCoy worked with Fox as his QBs coach with the Carolina Panthers from 2003-07 and passing game coordinator in 2008.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow on Deonte; Haden; Newton

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is in South Florida speaking at an event for the Boy Scouts of America Thursday. Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post caught up with him to ask his opinion of redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson’s recent comments. “I don’t think Deonte meant anything by that,” Tebow said. “He was just stating facts. [John] Brantley is a guy who throws on timing. You know when the ball is coming and when it’s not.”

For details on Joe Haden and the Cleveland Browns, the Carolina Panthers’ interest in Tebow and Cameron Newton claiming his innocence…keep reading…
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow on Deonte; Haden; Newton

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QB Tim Tebow has strep, was hospitalized

Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was hospitalized Monday night after the first day of practices for the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl, according to agent Jimmy Sexton. “He’s been sick for two days,” Sexton told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch following practice Tuesday afternoon. “He had a 103 temperature.”

Reports throughout the day stated that Tebow has been suffering from strep throat since Saturday, and high fevers are commonly associated with that illness. Robby Tebow, Tim’s brother, told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel that Tebow had a 103.5-degree fever Monday and barely got any sleep as he sweated throughout the night. He has been on IV for the last two days but has not missed a single Senior Bowl event.

Tebow struggled during Monday’s practice, by all accounts, with most of the criticism centered on his fumbling of snaps from under center. He also had some footwork issues and kept bringing the ball down to his waist when winding up to throw. However, Tebow appeared to rebound Tuesday by using his legs and making some nice deep passes, though two tosses late in practice were considered dropped interceptions and he had one fumbled snap during 11-on-11 drills.

Fowler also reported that Tebow has already sat down with representatives from the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings and had a more formal meeting with the entire coaching staff of the Carolina Panthers.

VIDEO: NFL Network’s interview with QB Tim Tebow after Day 2 of Senior Bowl.

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