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Air Force officer has workouts lined up with NFL teams as he separates from military

By BRENT BRIGGEMAN | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: April 13, 2019

(Tribune News Service) — Ryan Watson will give his hometown Atlanta Falcons the first crack at his services, but the window won't remain open for long.

The Air Force graduate will work out for the Falcons on Monday in Atlanta, and if the defensive end/outside linebacker doesn't sign he will then go to Detroit on Wednesday for a workout with the Lions, his agent Justin VanFulpen said.

Watson, who has served as an acquisitions officer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, since his 2017 graduation, is from Conyers, Ga.

"I grew up surrounded by Falcons fans, so it of course rubbed off," Watson said to The Gazette in a text message Thursday. "My best friends from Atlanta are all huge fans and constantly try to convince me it's the best spot for me."

Watson – along with fellow 2017 graduates Jacob Onyechi, Jalen Robinette and Weston Steelhammer – relaunched their attempt at football careers by attending a pro day workout at the academy in March.

Robinette then attended another pro day at Ohio State.

Each of the four attended rookie minicamps in 2017 but couldn't immediately pursue professional opportunities because a last-minute policy shift required them to serve at least two years before turning pro, a decision that came down just as the NFL draft was beginning.

Watson had a free agent agreement in place with the Arizona Cardinals before the Department of Defense policy became clear. He attended a rookie minicamp in Arizona but then put his career on hold.

Watson's military commitment can be cut short as of May 1, and with 15 days of vacation available he can separate April 15 – the same day he will work out in Atlanta.

The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Watson ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, posted a 30-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-6 standing broad jump at Air Force's Pro Day. He also bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times.

"I think I've done a good job staying in shape and staying football savvy, as some might say," said Watson, whose 17 sacks rank fourth in Air Force history.

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