Pat Watkins: Turn Up the Intensity

Former Florida State standout Pat Watkins is ready to learn from Parcells.

Talk about culture shock.

At Florida State, free safety Pat Watkins played for legendary Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden, who charms media and fans alike with his "Andy Griffith with a degree in football" style.

After being drafted in the fifth round of last weekend's draft, Watkins now gets to play for the ultimate anti-Bowden. In Bill Parcells, Watkins will play for a coach who once referred to Terry Glenn as "she" while questioning Glenn's toughness, and has been known to make a kicker slink away to the bench with an icy stare after a missed field goal.

"Oh, man, they couldn't be more different," Watkins said. "But Coach Bowden is a great coach, and Coach Parcells is a great coach. How much better can it get?"

Watkins doesn't exactly look the part of a typical safety. At 6- foot-5 and 211 pounds, the lanky Watkins looks more like Rip Hamilton than Ronnie Lott. But contrary to some pre-draft reports and the draft-day speculation of Mel Kiper, the NFL's tallest safety said he was never approached about the idea of bulking up to play outside linebacker.

"No, nobody talked about that," he said. "A couple of people said I could play wide receiver, but just about everyone saw me as a safety. That's what I am: a safety."

While not an overwhelming hitter, at least until he adds more bulk, Watkins offers a rare blend of height and quickness for the position, and is the classic "center field" type of safety, one who can play deep and close on receivers to knock the ball away or make the interception.

Because of his talents, Watkins said he was surprised to slip all the way to the fifth round, adding that it will serve as an extra motivation for him -- and that he landed with the best possible team.

"I definitely thought I was going to go higher," Watkins said. "But that's OK -- I'll just keep that in the back of my mind. But Dallas is where I wanted to be. I grew up rooting for the Cowboys. Living in St. Pete (St. Petersburg, Fla.), I was right across the bridge from Tampa, so I was a Bucs fan, too -- I always wanted to be Derrick Brooks. But the Cowboys, they were always my favorite team. I wish I'd gone higher in the draft, but ending up here, it couldn't have ended up any better."

By landing with the Cowboys, Watkins now has an opportunity to pair up in the same secondary with one of his idols, Roy Williams.

"He came in and sat in on a meeting, and I couldn't stop staring at him," Watkins admitted sheepishly. "I was kind of star-struck. I was almost drooling."

How soon he gets the chance to play in the backfield with Williams remains to be seen, but Watkins believes he has the tools needed to become the perfect complement to the Cowboys' star strong safety.

"I'm a pretty talented player, and I have the heart of a winner," he said. "I might have gone in the fifth round, but I'm going to show everyone I'm not a fifth-round player."

CowboysHQ Top Stories