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Jaylen Watkins Set to Make Bolts' Loaded Secondary Even Stronger
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With the NFL Draft nearly 24 hours away, it’s only natural for current players to reflect back on their own journey leading up to draft day.
For Jaylen Watkins, thinking back on his experience shows how he has come full circle.
After all, part of the reason he chose to sign with the Chargers in free agency is because of the coaches he met while trying to prove his worth as a young prospect.
“I’ve got familiarity here,” Watkins said inside his new locker room at Hoag Performance Center. “(Defensive Coordinator) Gus Bradley was at the Senior Bowl and (Defensive Backs Coach) Ron Milus did my pro day. Milo was tough at my pro day, but he came and met with me afterwards. I was working on the board with him. He was very complimentary with how smart I was on the board. Then Gus at the Senior Bowl, I performed really well and he was complimentary of me, too. To see him as a head coach (at the time) and his style, I felt like I wanted to play for him at some point. I didn’t know he was the DC here until the interest picked up and went, ‘Okay, that’s perfect.’”
The Chargers already boast a loaded secondary, and Watkins figures to make it even stronger after inking a one-year deal with the team in late March.
While his NFL career got off to a slow start after being selected in the fourth round (101st overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft, Watkins really came into his own over the past two seasons. Fresh off winning Super Bowl LII with the Eagles, Watkins came to the Bolts as he strongly believes L.A. has as good a chance as any team to win it all in 2018.
He saw that firsthand last year when the Chargers gave the eventual Super Bowl Champions all they could handle at StubHub Center.
In fact, he said the Bolts were as tough a challenge as the Eagles faced all year.
“The secondary, and seeing their pass defense last year (was impressive),” he said. “Just the way they played and their pass rush, I just feel like they have something good going…Keenan (Allen) did really well. Obviously, Philip (Rivers) did a great job. Hunter Henry got in the end zone. Just seeing the guys compete. They competed and had it at the end of the game. All you can ask for is a chance to win at the end of the game.”
Where Watkins fits in remains to be seen.
His versatility is a major reason why the Chargers coveted him, and to Watkins’ credit, he’s willing to play wherever they see fit.
“I prefer to (play) wherever is going to help the team win,” he said when asked his preference. “I played corner, nickel and safety last year. I played corner and safety in the last game. There’s really no preference, just wherever I can fit in and be the best help.”
That being said, he wouldn’t mind it if he got a chance to play some free safety.
“I’ll probably be back there at safety whether it’s free or however they do it. They’re really good on the outside. Jahleel (Addae) is a great strong safety. If I can get back there and roam the field a little bit and clean up some plays for them, I’ll be good.” Read