The Miami Dolphins have signed undrafted cornerback Jacoby Watkins to their practice squad, filling the vacancy left yesterday when placekicker Matt Prater signed with the Denver Broncos.
After graduating from Scotland County High School in Laurinburg, North Carolina, Watkins was redshirted at the University of North Carolina in 2002. As a freshman in 2003, appeared in seven games and made four tackles, including two against Arizona State.
Watkins moved into the starting lineup in 2004, starting all 12 games at cornerback for the Tar Heels. He finished fourth in the team with 61 tackles and tied for the team lead in interceptions with two, while also adding three pass break-ups and a fumble recovery. He was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in a 34-13 win over Georgia Tech. In the game, he recorded five tackles, broke up two passes and intercepted two passes. His first career interception came the second quarter when he outjumped receiver Calvin Johnson for control of the ball at the North Carolina 3-yard line.
Watkins appeared in just six games as a junior in 2005 after breaking his right tibia against Virginia. He finished the season with 19 tackles (14 solo) and three passes defensed. His most productive game came in against Georgia Tech, when he posted seven tackles and three pass break-ups.
As a senior in 2006, Watkins posted 52 tackles (41 solo), two tackles for a loss, a sack and eight pass break-ups. He suffered a torn ACL, ending his season and college career prematurely.
Due to his injury, Watkins was unable to fully participate in pre-draft workouts. At his Pro Day in March 2007, he measured in at 5-foot-11 3/8 and 171 pounds but was unable to run drills.
Watkins went undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft, due in large part to the injury. Fully recovered, Watkins worked out for the New York Giants on December 4, but was not signed. He was signed to the Miami Dolphins' practice squad on December 20 after placekicker Matt Prater signed with the Denver Broncos.
This is a fairly minor transaction by the Dolphins. Watkins obviously showed some skills at North Carolina, but given his size and the fact he's had two significant injuries already, there have to be significant concerns about durability.
If Watkins remains on the practice squad through the rest of the season, which in itself isn't a lock, he will become a free agent like all practice squad players. At that time, he may or may not be signed to a future contract in 2008. He'll face an uphill battle to make the team next season if he is re-signed.