Florida junior CBs Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy lead list of undrafted Gators

Anywhere from six to eight Florida Gators were expected to be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, but the event came Thursday and ended Saturday with only four being picked up by professional teams out of 256 slots.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley (first round, No. 29, New England), cornerback Jaylen Watkins (fourth round, No. 101, Philadelphia), linebacker Ronald Powell (fifth round, No. 169, New Orleans) and guard Jon Halapio (sixth around, No. 179, New England) were all picked, but other Gators were not as lucky.

Junior CBs Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, early entrants who were both projected as first-round picks by numerous draft analysts before the 2013 season, went undrafted during the three-day event.

Roberson’s injuries were likely the greatest deterrent to teams selecting him, though low testing numbers at the NFL Combine, a lackluster Pro Day and some off-field concerns also affected his draftability.

Purifoy did not progress as scouts hoped in terms of his coverage ability and overall play at cornerback during his junior campaign. Poor testing numbers and numerous off-field issues, including a run-in with the law for possession of marijuana and bath salts just two months before the draft, likely forced teams to bail on picking him up.

Continue Reading » Florida junior CBs Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy lead list of undrafted Gators

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Eagles select Gators CB Jaylen Watkins at No. 101 in fourth round of 2014 NFL Draft

Round 4 – No. 101
Jaylen Watkins, CB
Philadelphia Eagles


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.


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Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: More team visits and Sammy Watkins

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 10th entry on his long journey covers his recent travels, brother Sammy Watkins and final preparations as the process nears an end.

I’m back in Gainesville after a busy couple of weeks and finally have some time to catch everyone up on my Path to the Draft.

The past two weeks have been much of the same – working out, training and rehabilitating my Achilles, which is almost back at 100 percent. I’m very close.

I was actually planning on heading home Monday, but I had to stay in Gainesville this week because one more team wants to work me out and interview me before the draft.

So instead of going home, I’ve been hanging out with some of my teammates here and will leave on Saturday. First, I’ll stop in Orlando to see my dad, brother and sisters, and then I’ll head home to Cape Coral from there.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: More team visits and Sammy Watkins

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Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Visits

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.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Visits

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15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a card accident before his team’s game on Monday – don’t worry, he’s OK – when a woman ran a red light and hit his sports utility vehicle. What happened next? “She said she ran a red light and it was her fault,” Parsons told the Houston Chronicle. “She had a little car so it kind of messed up the front bumper of my car. She was OK. Asked me to sign her insurance card.” Parsons led Houston with 21 points in 40 minutes on Monday. He entered the game recovering from a hip injury he suffered last week.

» According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Philadelphia Eagles have a high level of interest in Gators outside linebacker Ronald Powell. Kempski notes that Philadelphia has a history of selecting high-upside players that were ranked among the top players in the country coming out of high school seeing as the Eagles used a seventh-round selection on running back Bryce Brown in 2012.

» The final USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll came out following the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and the individual ballots of all 32 coaches that voted were released as well. Five coaches – Tim Cluess (Iona), Matt Driscoll (North Florida), Tim Floyd (UTEP), Shaka Smart (VCU) and Don Verlin (Idaho) – voted Florida into the No. 2 spot over Kentucky, while four other coaches picked UF at No. 4 behind Wisconsin. One coach – Mike McConathy of Northwestern State – ranked the Gators fifth in the final poll.

Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

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Eagles ink Riley Cooper to five-year, $25M deal

Former Florida Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, locking up the team’s second-leading pass catcher before he was eligible to hit free agency.

Cooper, who was paid $2.11 million over the four years of his rookie deal, will earn $10 million guaranteed with the fifth year serving as a team option.

After reeling in 46 receptions for 680 yards and four scores during his first three NFL seasons, Cooper bested all those numbers in 2013 alone with 47 catches for 835 yards and eight touchdowns.

He was heavily featured in head coach Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense and was obviously an important piece that Philadelphia was worried about losing.

Just seven months ago, Cooper was embroiled in controversy when a video of him yelling an obscene racial slur at a bouncer who was working at a Kenny Chesney concert leaked online. He took full responsibility and apologized profusely but had the incident hanging over him throughout the offseason.

Thanks to support from his teammates, Cooper was able to overcome the obstacle and have a career year. Many believed the incident would keep another team from bringing him into their locker room, but the Eagles obviously believed there was enough interest to pay Cooper, the No. 159 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, well in order to keep him from reaching free agency.

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY Sports

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FOUR BITS: Elam, Cooper, Wilbekin, Andrews

1 » Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam, who just completed his rookie season, returned to Gainesville, FL recently in order to take classes in hopes of completing his degree program. While in town, the former Florida Gators star has also decided to take a job at FinishLine. According to his team’s website, Elam wanted to experience working in retail because he would like to open a sports merchandise store of his own someday. Elam has been working 20 hours per week at Oaks Mall since January. “I didn’t realize there was so much organization, so much planning. I didn’t realize there was so much to it,” he told BaltimoreRavens.com. “I just thought you’d say you want a shoe, so then you’d go back and grab a shoe. There’s way more to it. You have number coding. You have color coding, all of that. I just realized that there’s more to it than I thought.” Elam also said he has been recognized quite often but has no problem with the attention.

2 » Contrary to a weekend report that stated the Philadelphia Eagles had prioritized signing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin over Riley Cooper, ProFootballTalk.com reports that Cooper is by far the preferred potential signee. “We’d previously heard that the market for Cooper is expected to be active,” wrote Mike Florio. “Which means that, if the Eagles plan to keep him, they need to match or beat whatever Cooper could get as a free agent.” Cooper only earned $2.11 million during his four-year rookie contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He had his best season – by far – in 2013, hauling in 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. In his previous three seasons, Cooper had just 46 receptions for 680 yards and four scores.

Late Wednesday, The Philadelphia News reported that the Eagles and Cooper are nearing agreement on a multi-year deal that could be announced by the end of the week.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Elam, Cooper, Wilbekin, Andrews

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Pouncey, Cooper

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah played the second-most minutes of any reserve in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, his second-straight appearance in the midseason contest, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with five rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes. Noah saw extensive time down the stretch for the Eastern Conference, which outscored the Western Conference 87-66 in the second half to pull out a 163-155 victory in the highest-scoring All-Star game ever. After the win, Miami guard Dwyane Wade referred to Noah as “one of the best competitors I’ve ever played against,” noting that his defense played a major part in the East’s success. “In the locker room,” he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “we talked about having fun and enjoying it, but [Noah] was serious. He wanted to win. You could see it in his face. … I’m glad he was on our side.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Pouncey, Cooper

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