Jaylen Watkins: Path to NFL Draft – Gainesville

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 seventh entry was submitted on Wednesday, the day he arrived back in Gainesville, FL to begin preparations for Pro Day, which is open to the public and set for Monday, March 17 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Coming out of the NFL Combine, I’ve spent the last two weeks continuing to rehabilitate and train in South Florida. It was nice to have a break from everything for a bit, but I’m glad to be back in the swing of things.

I actually just got back to Gainesville on Wednesday morning. It feels a little weird to be back, but the first thing I did was go to the stadium even before I went to my place. I went and saw my teammates, Coach [Will] Muschamp and T-Rob [defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson], and everybody in the training room. They were all excited to see me, and it was definitely mutual.

My 4.44-second 40-yard dash was definitely the topic of conversation. A lot of the guys and coaches were saying they were proud of me for what I was able to do in the Senior Bowl and at the NFL Combine. It was really nice to feel the support.

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Jaylen Watkins: Path to the 2014 NFL Draft – Showing out at the NFL Combine (Part II)

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 sixth entry was submitted on Wednesday, one day after he returned to South Florida from Indianapolis, IN, where he participated in the 2014 NFL Combine. Watkins continued to impress and came away with some of the most noteworthy scores in the events in which he was physically able to participate.

Part I: Arrival, testing, interviews, bench press

On Tuesday, the day of the workout, we woke up at 7:30 a.m. to take some still pictures. You had the option to go see trainers to get taped up or start warming up, or you could just head out onto the field.

My group (11) was the second group of defensive backs, so we were able to watch the other group (10) do the 40-yard dash and position drills while we were waiting to do the broad jump and vertical jump. There was a lot of downtime because the jumps go pretty fast, but you have to wait until the first group is done with their 40-yard dash and positional work before you can even get on the field and compete.

A lot of guys were getting up to run and then sitting down and stretching some more. Being the second group to go was kind of a drag.

I felt pretty good going into the 40-yard dash because I knew I was going to be one of the last guys to go in my group considering my last name begins with a “W.” Instead of warming up and cooling down over and over, I did a lot of sitting around and relaxing in the beginning but began getting ready when my group began to run.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins: Path to the 2014 NFL Draft – Showing out at the NFL Combine (Part II)

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Jaylen Watkins: Path to the 2014 NFL Draft – Showing out at the NFL Combine (Part I)

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 sixth entry was submitted on Wednesday, one day after he returned to South Florida from Indianapolis, IN, where he participated in the 2014 NFL Combine. Watkins continued to impress and came away with some of the most noteworthy scores in the events in which he was physically able to participate.

Part II: 40-yard dash, free swag, departure

We flew out of here on Saturday morning and had a two-hour layover in Atlanta before we could make it to Indianapolis. A bunch of us met up in Atlanta – Marcus Roberson and I were both working out in South Florida but flew out at different times for some reason. Also on the flight with us was Dontae Johnson (North Carolina State), Tre Boston (North Carolina) and Jabari Price (North Carolina), who wound up being my roommate for the entire four-days at the combine.

Once we got there, the second you get there, you have a bunch of forms to sign and then you go to your room, put things down and go straight for medical testing. You get your blood checked, have a urine drug test and take a bunch of X-rays and MRIs if you have or had injuries. Because there are so many players and MRIs especially take a long time, there can be a lot of waiting around.

By the time we got out of there, we went to dinner and were able to relax for a little while. Afterward there are informal interviews with teams from 8-11 p.m., which was very similar to how they did it at the start of the Senior Bowl.

The next morning was an early wake-up because of the second drug test, which they start taking people at 4:15 a.m. But I got up at 3:30 a.m. so I could be the first in line and they let me take it at 4:05 a.m., so I was able to go back to my room afterward and get some sleep.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins: Path to the 2014 NFL Draft – Showing out at the NFL Combine (Part I)

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to NFL Draft: Improving

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 fifth entry was submitted on Friday, one day before he flew out to Indianapolis, IN to compete in the 2014 NFL Combine. Watkins has been rehabilitating a sprained Achilles he suffered during practice for the 2014 Senior Bowl and hopes to be able to compete in the full combine workout on Tuesday.

Over the last week I’ve continued to spend a lot of time rehabbing from my Achilles sprain at the Senior Bowl. I’d say I’m probably about 90-95 percent right now. I’m completely over the pain, but the Achilles is still tight sometimes, so I’m working on stretching and getting the flexibility back in the ankle. The doctors have been working on it, getting it back to normal, so I’m confident that I’ll be OK.

I’ve seen a little more of [Dominique] Easley recently as he spends most of his days rehabbing and is still unable to do many of the workouts. He is progressively getting better and doing some work in the gym, making his upper body stronger while doing whatever the trainers will allow him to do. He’s taking everything pretty well, knows it’s a long process and that he’ll eventually be able to show off on the field.

We’re in final preparations for the combine now. I know that I will be running the 40-yard dash for sure, but I have not yet decided about all the other events.

I’m going to mostly be rehabbing the next couple days and while I’m there, so I’ll be able to figure out what else I’m going to do. My trainer [Tony Villani] and his staff are already there, so it will be nice that the people helping me out will be giving me the same treatment I’ve had the last few weeks. Like I said, running the 40 is a definite but everything else I probably won’t decide until Tuesday when I’m out on the field.

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to 2014 NFL Draft: Healing

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 fourth entry comes just over a week before he heads to Indianapolis, IN to compete in the 2014 NFL Combine. Watkins is currently training in South Florida and rehabilitating a sprained Achilles he suffered during practice for the 2014 Senior Bowl.

Even though I sprained my Achilles and was unable to play in the Senior Bowl, I actually stuck around and watched the entire game. I was already there and my entire family already drove up, so I stayed and watched Solomon [Patton] and Jon [Halapio]…and Matt Patchan was there, too, so that was pretty cool.

We all hung out and ate meals together with Matt. We went through some hard times and good times together at Florida, so it was nice to reconnect. We actually didn’t know he was coming at first until we saw him walk into breakfast one day, but it was definitely good to catch up with him. It was like old times with the Gators.

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Florida Gators compete in Pro Bowl, Senior Bowl

Four former Florida Gators participated in all-star games over the weekend with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey headlining as participants in the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI on Sunday evening.

The 21st and 22nd former Gators to be picked for the Pro Bowl, both played in the game for the first time in their respective careers.

Haden was the sixth player drafted and played for Team (Jerry) Rice. He intercepted quarterback Cam Newton and also registered one solo tackle and one pass defense.

Pouncey was the first center selected but did not start for Team (Deion) Sanders. He did see plenty of action throughout the game, however.

On Saturday, guard Jon Halapio and wide receiver Solomon Patton participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl at Land-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL.

Halapio started at right guard for the South, but Patton saw limited action in the contest. He was targeted only once in the game but did not catch a pass. Patton did his most work as a returner, bringing back a kickoff for 27 yards and a punt for 15 yards.

Cornerback Jaylen Watkins, OnlyGators.com’s 2014 Path to the Draft blogger, suffered an Achilles injury Wednesday and was unable to compete on Saturday. He is expected to be able to participate in all upcoming pre-draft events.

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Jaylen Watkins – Path to the 2014 NFL Draft: Checking in from the Senior Bowl

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 third entry comes live from Mobile, AL as Watkins is currently practicing ahead of and set to compete in the 2014 Senior Bowl on Saturday.

Since the last time I checked in here, I spent a few days getting extra treatment rather than training as hard for the combine as I had been previously. It was time to get prepared for the Senior Bowl, which I ended up leaving for on Saturday.

Saturday and Sunday we just came in, did our check in, took the Wonderlic and other tests and got weighed. It was really weird to get measured in front of so many other people. We walked up to the stairs and were suddenly in front of 300 people wearing just our compression shorts. [Laughing] If you know what those are, you will be laughing at that, too.

I took about six or seven different tests and definitely felt good going through each of them. There is not really any way to prepare for them because they’re not standardized tests like in school. The tests work you through concepts and get an idea how you learn and process information.

When we finally got on the field to practice, I had to get adjusted the first day in a helmet and pads. Some guys were only a few weeks out from playing, but I obviously had a longer time off. My first practice went really well, but my first time through warm-ups felt kind of weird. I was anxious, which is something I have not felt in a long time, but once practice got going and I went through the individual period, everything was great.

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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