Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Jason Watkins
Jason Watkins (OT)
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 318
College: Florida
Conference: SEC
Hometown: Lakeland, FL
High School: Lake Gibson
Featured Prospects
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

Watkins impressed professional scouts with his athleticism. After two years as a starter at left offensive tackle, the converted tight end continued to improve with each passing game, going on to start 29-of-53 contests for the Gators, including 27 on the offensive line and two as a tight end.


Since his collegiate debut in 2005, the Florida staff envisioned Watkins would one day play a big role on the O-line. He arrived on campus as a heavily recruited 280-pounder with just two years of football experience.


Watkins did not start playing the game until he enrolled at Lake Gibson High during his junior year. His family moved to that city from LaPlace, Louisiana and he was talked into trying out for their gridiron squad. Still, it took a "heavy" recruiting job by then Florida head coach Ron Zook to convince him to turn down scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Michigan State, Louisiana State and Auburn to join the Florida program.


At Lake Gibson High School, Watkins rapidly emerged. In just two seasons, the football neophyte not only earned All-American honors from Super Prep, but was also rated the state of Florida's 16th-best prospect by that recruiting service. Rivals.com ranked him 77th on their Southeast Elite 88 squad and he received a three-star prospect rating from Insiders.com, a service that also regarded him as the seventh-best offensive tackle prospect in the South.


Watkins garnered Southern Hot 100 and State Top 50 accolades from Tampa Bay Online. He was also named a Class 4A All-State, All-County and All-Conference first-team as a senior. He participated in the 2003 Cali-Florida Bowl prior to his arrival at the University of Florida.


Watkins spent the 2004 season performing on Florida's scout team. He appeared in 12 games as a blocker on the field goal and extra point protection squad, in addition to seeing action on the offensive line vs. Wyoming, Louisiana Tech and Florida State in 2005.


The following season saw Watkins serve as the line's top reserve at offensive tackle. He earned two starting assignments at tight end vs. Vanderbilt and Auburn, but did not catch any passes. He also lined up at wide receiver in the Southern Mississippi clash, which must have made USM cornerbacks wonder what they were in for seeing a now 307-pounder coming into their secondary.


Watkins was one of two football representatives on the UF Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2007. He took over left offensive tackle duties that year, starting the final twelve games at that position after making his collegiate starting debut at right tackle in the season opener vs. Western Kentucky.


It was a "baptism by fire" for the youngster, as he graded 78.0% for blocking consistency, giving up four of the 13 quarterback sacks surrendered by the Gators' front wall. He helped Florida average 457.15 yards per game, coming up with 64 knockdowns and nine touchdown-resulting blocks.


As a senior, Watkins again started all season, shifting over to right tackle. He received Gator Champions Club honors in four contests (given for top performances). He was named honorable mention All-Southeastern Conference by the Associated Press, as he produced 78 knockdowns to go with 12 touchdown-resulting blocks. He graded 81.71% and was part of a front wall that gave up just 16 sacks. The Gators went on to capture the national title behind an offense that averaged 445.07 yards and 43.64 points per game.


High School

Attended Lake Gibson (Fla.) High School as a junior and senior, playing football for head coach Keith DeMyer...Attended high school in LaPlace, Louisiana as a freshman and sophomore, but his first experience playing organized football did not come until his junior campaign...Earned All-American honors from Super Prep and was also rated the state of Florida's 16th-best prospect by that recruiting service...Rivals.com ranked him 77th on their Southeast Elite 88 squad and he received a three-star prospect rating from Insiders.com, a service that also regarded him as the seventh-best offensive tackle prospect in the South...Garnered Southern Hot 100 and State Top 50 accolades from Tampa Bay Online...Named a Class 4A All-State, All-County and All-Conference first-team as a senior...Participated in the 2003 Cali-Florida Bowl prior to his arrival at the University of Florida.


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Analysis

Positives: Tall, athletic left tackle build with long, well-built arms and quick feet. Can quickly position his body to cut off the back-side end, getting his hands on jersey numbers to steer and drive. Smooth runner getting into space on run plays or screens. Effective on block-downs, sealing the edge. Quickly gets to linebackers at the second level or downfield on crossing routes or outside runs. Good punch to stop defensive ends before they make a move. Will block two or three defenders as the play develops. Versatile player with starting experience at left and right tackle, as well as tight end.


Negatives: Waist-bender, lacking sufficient knee bend in pass protection. Doesn't have great lower-body bulk. Needs to improve his footwork in pass protection as he tends to lunge, depending too much on his punch. Stiff in the upper body, better running straight-line in space than adjusting to incoming defenders. Must improve effectiveness hitting moving targets.


Compares To: BRENO GIACOMINI, Green Bay -- The average fan might not know much about Giacomini, but they will when he becomes the Packers' next offensive line find in 2009. Like Giacomini, Watkins is a former tight end with minimal experience as an offensive tackle. The Gators' lineman has to drastically increase his overall strength and needs a lot of technique work. He struggled vs. the bull rush at right tackle and has experience on the left side, but he lacks passion and aggression in his game, along with poor strength numbers. His athleticism and potential will lead to him being drafted earlier than some expect.


Injury Report

No major injuries reported.


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