FOUR BITS: Watkins, Halapio, Powell, Horford

By Adam Silverstein
May 13, 2014

1 » Teams understandably praise the players they draft, but Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly went above and beyond simply sharing the standard compliments when discussing Florida Gators cornerback Jaylen Watkins, his fourth-round pick, after making the selection. “Extremely high football intelligence,” he said of Watkins. “He has the speed to play corner, but sometimes when you’re drafting guys, you’re trying to project that maybe he can be this. Obviously, there is evidence of him playing safety and doing it at a really high level. He could be the quarterback of the defense because of his football intelligence, and we just thought that versatility and that football intelligence and character part of it, we thought it was a really good value, especially [on day three]. He’s one of those guys that we were really excited about [Friday] night, where if we didn’t get a great offer then we were going to stay right there and take Jaylen [with the first pick of the fourth round].” Watkins will start out at cornerback for the Eagles, according to general manager Howie Roseman (a Florida alumnus), but could play safety down the road as he develops and potentially adds more weight to his frame.

2 » The New England Patriots jumped at the opportunity to draft Gators guard Jon Halapio in the sixth round on Saturday with head coach Bill Bellichick “a little surprised to see him where he was” still available that late in the draft. While Halapio should make the team and could eventually develop into a starter in New England, he will also help the team’s first-round pick, Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, with his transition to the NFL. “It’s good to have people [here] I’ve been around four years in college,” Easley said in his team press conference. “It makes it real comfortable.”

3 » If injuries had not limited his development and effectiveness, Gators Buck linebacker Ronald Powell would likely have been at worst a second-day selection in the draft. But a variety of concerns held Powell back, just not so much that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and the New Orleans Saints could ignore the value he had as a fifth-round selection. “He has pretty strong. He has heavy hands,” said head coach Sean Payton after making the selection. “We felt like he is a guy that has some versatility. We felt like his measurable were good. He plays outside linebacker. I would definitely see him playing that for us, the Sam position, not so much in a stack or off the ball, but more on the line of scrimmage.” Added Powell: “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. My ultimate goal was to get to the next level. Football is not just a game to me, it is a lifestyle.”

3 » Former Gators forward Al Horford, still recovering from a torn pectoral that forced him to miss most of the NBA season with the Atlanta Hawks, has once again agreed to participate in Basketball Without Borders, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Horford will travel to Rome, Italy, in June to participate in the four-day camp, which is co-operated by the NBA and FIBA. It is the fourth time that Horford has lent his time to the program, previously travelling to Mexico (2008), Singapore (2009) and South Africa (2013). “It’s something that I enjoy doing, teaching about the game and learning from the coaches that participate,” he told the paper.

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