Canadian Prospect Crosses Paths With Rodgers

Baylor left tackle Danny Watkins played at Butte College in California just like Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

INDIANAPOLIS––NFL Draft prospect Danny Watkins began his path to football stardom at Butte College in California just like Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and took a bit of satisfaction in watching him become Super Bowl MVP.

"It was kind of surreal watching that," said Watkins at the NFL Combine on Thursday. "He was kind of a legend at Butte College, and it was good to see he was able to be that. I could kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel when that was happening."

It was a long and winding tunnel for Watkins.

Growing up in Kelowna, British Columbia, the Canadian native never even played football. Watkins played hockey and rugby in high school.

Upon graduating he joined the local fire department––which he was convinced was his calling in life––worked for four years, and then enrolled at Butte to advance his career in their Fire Sciences program.

While there, he met head football coach Jeff Jordan and decided to give football a try. He was even teammates Aaron's younger brother, Jordan Rodgers.

Finding success in his new sport, Watkins transferred to Baylor where his stock has skyrocketed despite only having played football the past four years. He was named first-team All-Big XII this past season as an offensive tackle and helped lead Baylor to a bowl game for the first time 1994.

Because he worked for four years coming out of high school, Watkins is now 26 and must fight the notion that he's old for a rookie just entering the NFL.

"Well, I don't have arthritis," joked Watkins.

But in all seriousness, he thinks there's several factors working in his favor being older than most other players entering the professional football.

"[The team that drafts me is] not going to have to worry about a younger player coming in and having to babysit them," said Watkins. "They know that I'm going to make the right decisions right away."

He's also looking at making a position change. Watkins started at left tackle for the Bears the past two seasons, but several observers think his best chance for success is at guard where he played at the Senior Bowl.

"Guard's probably the best spot for him," said Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post while at the Combine. "That's probably what he projects to that people are going to be interested in. But when you look at it, this is a guy that can slip into the first round. He's a name to keep an eye on.

"He's got a couple extra years, because he was up in Canada. He comes down, he's got the maturity factor working for him. He's got the size. He was moving people so well at the Senior Bowl last month."

Watkins doesn't want to pigeonhole himself. He'll let NFL teams figure out where he'll play in the pros. And his versatility can't hurt.

"I moved inside at the Senior Bowl, and it felt pretty good," said Watkins. "These teams ask me where I want to play, and I tell them, 'Wherever you feel I can best help and benefit the team.'"

Despite being an admitted hockey fan that enjoys watching the Vancouver Canucks, he hasn't felt the need to convince teams that he loves football.

"Not one [team] has asked me," said Watkins. "I think to get to this point you have to love it, you have to make it a passion, that's for sure."

With the 32nd pick in the NFL Draft and a perceived need for depth on the offensive line, Watkins is a popular name for the Packers in many Internet mock drafts.

Should it happen, it probably wouldn't be much of a transition for the native Canadian to get used to playing in a northern climate like Green Bay.

And maybe he can make the Butte College community proud, just like Aaron Rodgers.

"To go from a junior college to possibly a franchise quarterback, that's definitely something to be proud of," said Watkins.

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Comments (4)

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asshalo's picture

February 25, 2011 at 09:17 pm

Great story. It'll be easy to root for him. I would expect a full fledged freakout if he's taken at 32 though.

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jaydubya's picture

February 26, 2011 at 02:17 am

* ahem *

"We will never forget you Brent"

(nuff said)

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Cole O's picture

February 26, 2011 at 11:46 am

Kelowna's climate is nothing like Green Bay's. British Columbia has a climate more like Seattle.
I don't know about using our first rounder on him, but if he falls to us in the 2nd hed b a steal.
What do you think about taking Ben Ijalana out of Villanova with the 32nd pick. He has good footwork and long arms but he may need a year to sit on the bench or move inside. Green Bay seems like a good situation for him

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Brian Carriveau's picture

February 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Absolutely agree on Ijalana. He's short compared to some other tackles, but he's got surprisingly long arms for his height.

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