Two days after watching his younger brother Sammy Watkins go third overall to the Buffalo Bills, older brother and former Gator cornerback Jaylen Watkins heard his own name called when the Philadelphia Eagles selected him with the No. 101 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Watkins was the first player selected in the fourth round.
Often overshadowed by Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purfioy, Watkins had a terrific offseason beginning with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl. Watkins followed that week up with a good showing at the NFL Scouting Combine and at Florida’s Pro Day.
Watkins was part of the 2010 recruiting class and one of the less heralded recruits in the “best recruiting class ever” but one of the most productive. Watkins played all over the secondary for the Gators during his four seasons and that versatility was attractive to several NFL teams.
He played in all but three games as a freshman — mainly on special teams — but made a real impact starting eight contests as a sophomore, finishing the year with 34 tackles and five pass breakups.
Watkins appeared in all 13 games as a junior, starting 11. He finished the season with 39 tackles, one for-a-loss, three interceptions and eight pass blocks. Watkins made the move from cornerback to safety out of necessity last season — his final in Gainesville — and posted career highs in tackles (52) and tackles-for-loss (2).
Watkins was the second former Florida player selected in the 2014 NFL Draft following up Dominique Easley and will join fellow former Gator Riley Cooper in Philadelphia.