Slimming down can bulk up odds for Watkins

Versatile offensive lineman takes draft pointers from friendly Volunteer

Special to The StateApril 2, 2012 

Rokevious Watkins leaned on a lifelong friend over the past couple of months. The former two-year starter on the offensive line for South Carolina, Watkins turned to Eric Berry, the former All-SEC defensive back from Tennessee and now with the Kansas City Chiefs, for any advice he could muster in preparing for the NFL Combine in February.

Watkins did it again last week when he joined 14 other Gamecock players at the USC Pro day at Williams-Brice Stadium that had scouts from all 32 NFL teams.

Berry was in attendance to watch Watkins perform.

“He’s helped me a whole lot,” Watkins said. “He just went through the process two years ago so I would be foolish not to listen. He’s taught me everything about going through the process and how to deal with everything that is throw at you. It’s a three-month-long interview process.”

Watkins was looking to improve what he showed scouts when he attended the combine in Indianapolis. He dropped 11 pounds in just over four weeks and felt positive about his showing on his home turf.

“I dropped the weight I wanted to drop and came in felling in pretty good shape so I felt like I got everything done that in needed to accomplish,” Watkins said. “The main thing they wanted me to do was drop weight and I think I proved I could do it by weighing 11 pounds less than I did at the combine.”

He officially weighed in at 327.9 pounds after tipping the scales at 338 at the Combine. That was down from the 345 Watkins said he was at during the Gamecocks season.

He has been training in Florida since the Capital One Bowl. Watkins is projected as a late-round pick or free agent invite by many experts.

Watkins feels one of his strongest points is his versatility. In 2010, Watkins started 13 games at right guard and one at left guard before playing three positions last year. He started the first five games at right tackle before taking the left tackle role after Kyle Nunn was lost for the next seven games. With Nunn back for the Capital One Bowl, Watkins started in placed of the injured Terrence Campbell at right guard.

Since the end of the season, he has added practicing some at center.

“I’m doing everything I can to get noticed,” Watkins said. “Most teams like me at guard. Really, they like everything, from my physicality to me being able to move at my size.

Watkins said he is not concerned about whether he will be drafted or have to go the free agent route. He said he has done all he can do to impress the scouts by starting all 27 games the past two seasons after transferring from Georgia Military College in 2009. He redshirted his first season before becoming a mainstay on the line.

“I don’t pay attention to it,” Watkins said of pre-draft rankings. “Tapes don’t lie. Game films are already in place. However it comes, I just will be happy to get a foot in the door. I’m soaking up the process and enjoying it. The only thing I can do is whoever gives me an opportunity I make the most of it. By making the most of it, that means getting on the 53-man roster and hopefully end up starting on day.”

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