Eagles sign CB Jaylen Watkins to rookie contract

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


Height: 5’11” – Weight: 194 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

The first player selected on the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft, Florida Gators cornerback Jaylen Watkins signed a four-year, $2.72 million contract on Monday with the Philadelphia Eagles, which picked him in the fourth round at No. 101 overall.

One of the most underrated and overlooked players in the draft, Watkins brings a lot to the table for the Philadelphia with his versatility, which will allow him to play corner, nickel or safety as an NFL rookie. He has fluid hips and great change-of-direction and even learned to become a better tackler in 2013 when starting at safety for Florida, checking in third on the team with 52 takedowns.

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.

OnlyGators.com learned the details of Watkins’s contract on Thursday. He will earn $544,257 as a rookie in 2014, including a $420,000 base salary and one-quarter of his $497,028 signing bonus, which will be paid out over the duration of his contract. His annual average salary is $679,257, and his deal maxes out at $809,757 in 2017.

Watkins, who started 28 of the 48 games he played but saw starter’s time in most other contests in 2013, 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 UF player chosen by the Eagles since 1954 and the first since wide receiver Riley Cooper in 2010. Watkins will be two former Florida players in Philadelphia – Cooper and rookie tight end Trey Burton, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent.

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Florida Gators 2014 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

OGGOA LIVE COVERAGE – May 8-10 – Florida Gators in the 2014 NFL Draft

Former Florida Gators are expected to come off the board throughout the three-day 2014 NFL Draft with the team assured of having at least six players drafted.

As fans of the 32 NFL teams look on nationwide, those supporting the Gators are just as excited to see where the players they used to watch on Saturdays will be playing on Sundays in the fall.

The fact of the matter is that few things are certain when it comes to the NFL Draft. Trades can occur at any moment and each team views its most pressing needs and what each player on its board brings to the table differently than analysts do. Rather than try to mock the draft, predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, OnlyGators.com is here to set your expectations for what should go down.

» Florida will not see a player drafted in the first round for the second time in the last three seasons and fifth time this century.

The Gators only have one legitimate shot to see their total of 45 first-round picks increase during this draft and that is with defensive tackle Dominique Easley. A talent deserving of being selected in the top 15 picks, Easley’s multiple knee injuries – coupled with the fact that he is still recovering from one suffered in October – make him a risky choice at the top half of the first round or on the first day altogether. Should a team be enamored with Easley and believe him to be a must-draft talent on Thursday, he would be the second UF defensive lineman chosen in the first round since 2008, and it would be the second time in school history that a defensive lineman was picked in the first round of back-to-back drafts (2007-08).

Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2014 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

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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.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins: Path to NFL Draft – Gainesville

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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.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to NFL Draft: Improving

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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.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins – Path to 2014 NFL Draft: Healing

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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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