(WJBF) — Laney High School’s Jaylen Watson is the latest CSRA player to earn his way onto a 53-man NFL roster. Watson will suit up with the Kansas City Chiefs this season. The rookie defensive back will wear No. 35 with the Chiefs.
Watson was drafted by the Chiefs in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Washington State. Prior to joining the Cougars, Watson headed to Ventura Community College in California after graduating from Laney.
WJBF NewsChannel 6 spoke with Watson the day after he made the 53-man regular season roster. “You know we were all expecting it, it wasn’t a big surprise,” said Watson. “But you know where I come from we pretty much know we have to work harder than others, so we’re very blessed but not surprised,” added Watson.
Watson says he used the Chiefs’ training camp and preseason to show he has what it takes to play in the league. “To be honest just getting the speed down of the NFL, it’s so much faster, the playbook is much more complex,” said Watson. “But once I came back (from camp) and got comfortable, I was able to play fast and showcase what I could do,” he added.
Watson’s preseason game stats are below:
- 59 coverage snaps
- 10 targets, 3 reception for 24 yards
- 2 pass break ups
- 39.6 NFL passer rating against
Watson is the latest Augusta-area local to make a 53-man roster this season in the NFL, following the lead of several others.
Silver Bluff’s DeMarcus Lawrence enters his ninth season with the Dallas Cowboys. The two-time Pro Bowl defensive end signed a five-year, $105 million contract with the Cowboys in 2019. The 30 year-old was drafted in the second round in 2014 out of Boise State.
Fellow Silver Bluff Bulldog Tarron Jackson begins his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles. The defensive end played in 17 games with the Eagles during his rookie season. Jackson was drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth round in 2021 out of Coastal Carolina.
Strom Thurmond’s Antonio Hamilton may have finally found a starting role at defensive back with the Arizona Cardinals after spending years bouncing between different teams’ practice squads and active rosters. Hamilton went undrafted out of South Carolina State in 2015.
Grovetown High School’s D’Ante Smith was the first Columbia County player to be selected in the NFL Draft. Smith was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round in 2021 out of East Carolina. The 6’5 300 lb. offensive lineman battled several injuries during his rookie season, but did play in two games (one start at LOT) during regular season, and two games during Cincinnati’s postseason run to Super Bowl LVI.
Barnwell offensive lineman Marcus McKethan was selected by the New York Giants in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of North Carolina. The 6’7 330 lb. rookie is expected to miss the entire 2022 season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee August 5 during a scrimmage. McKethan was placed on injured reserve by the team the next day.
Hephzibah’s Darrell Baker Jr. signed with the Arizona Cardinals this season as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Southern. The third-team All-Sun Belt Conference defensive back was waived from injured reserve with a settlement on August 30 after suffering an injury during training camp.