Florida State will again be well represented in this Saturday's Senior Bowl. Three former Noles, all defensive players, are scheduled to participate in the annual all-star game to be played in Mobile, Alabama.
Last year, wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe, offensive lineman Ray Willis and cornerback Bryant McFadden all took part in the event and played well for the NFL coaches and scouts in attendance. This year's trio of Brodrick Bunkley, Kamerion Wimbley and Pat Watkins are hoping to do the same.
A solid turnout this Saturday could do wonders for the draft stock of all three former Seminole defenders.
"I'm trying to take full advantage of this," Watkins told Warchant.com. "That's my plan, come out here and compete. I feel privileged just to be here. I love the competition and going against the best people in the country. It's a great time to show what I'm made of."
If anybody needs a good week in Mobile it's Watkins. Entering this past season, some publications tabbed the 6-foot-4 safety as a preseason All-American but his senior campaign was average at best. In fact, in three games sophomore Roger Williams earned the start over the more experienced Watkins.
Despite a lackluster regular season, the Tallahassee native came on like gangbusters in the Orange Bowl versus Penn State where he led FSU in tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He has taken that positive momentum into this week's Senior Bowl practices and the NFL onlookers have noticed.
"I had a couple people tell me I'm looking real good," Watkins said. "I had a real good week and just need to try to improve... It's been a real good week, it's fun and got a lot of good experience playing against other high caliber players."
In addition to next month's pro combine in Indianapolis, the lanky safety plans on participating in Florida State's Pro Day scheduled for March 16th. That's where his draft stock could really skyrocket. During last July's player testing, Watkins turned in a 4.5 40-yard dash and an amazing 3.91 time in the shuttle run (top mark the day). In addition, his 10'8" broad jump, and 39" vertical jump wasn't bad either.
"Those are the things I'm going to continue to work on," he said. "I'm training down in Ft. Lauderdale and I hope to come back faster and better than ever."
Watkins isn't the only Seminole with something to prove this week. Defensive end Kamerion Wimbley was leading the ACC in sacks and appeared destined for the first round of the NFL draft before a questionable chop block by a center at NC State resulted in a knee injury. After missing the next three games, he was able to return in time for the Orange Bowl but was still not 100 percent.
There is still a chance he could fall in the first round if his knee holds up to all the poking and prodding from NFL doctors. It would also help if he has a good outing this Saturday and tests out well in Indianapolis and at FSU's Pro Day.
With his dominating performances in the ACC Championship Game and the Orange Bowl, and by leading all interior linemen in tackles for loss this past season, you wouldn't think Brodrick Bunkley has nothing to prove. Nevertheless, he somehow didn't earn first team All-ACC honors and there are still a few NFL experts that say he won't be drafted in the first round.
So far, the former Seminole noseguard has been the talk of the practices for the South squad and is silencing his critics. Even though he suffered a minor concussion on Tuesday, he is still expected to play this Saturday.
Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. and the contest will be nationally-televised by ESPN.
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