Ross Cockrell talks Duke Pro Day, NFL future

Cornerback Ross Cockrell will headline a group of six former Blue Devils strutting their stuff for NFL scouts at Duke's annual Pro Day. Cockrell will work on campus for representatives from NFL teams alongside defensive ends Kenny Anunike and Justin Foxx, running back Juwan Thompson, wide receiver Brandon Braxton. Joining the group will be former Blue Devil quarterback Sean Schroeder, who transferred from Duke in 2011 and was a two-year starter at Hawaii.

Cockrell will work out for scouts for the first time since the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis. The cornerback ran 4.59 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine and will run the 40 again in front of the scouts at Duke as well as hope to improve his 10-rep performance in the bench press.

"I get another opportunity to perform in this job interview," Cockrell said. "Most guys don't get two opportunities, I'm lucky enough to get that."

In his position drills, Cockrell said he hopes to show the scouts that he continues to make strides in his backpedal technique. Commonplace in NFL secondaries, backpedaling was not a major part of Duke's defensive scheme during Cockrell's five-year collegiate career.

"Our coaches did the best they could to put players in positions to make plays, and we played a lot of press man-to-man," Cockrell said. "I really had to make sure that I focused on my backpedal going into the draft."

After working out for the past two months in Southern California, Cockrell returned to his alma mater two weeks before Pro Day to work out with members of the Duke strength and conditioning staff. Cockrell added that working out alongside his former teammates helped to push him to the next level in his conditioning work.

Fresh off a 10-win season and an ACC Coastal Division title, Cockrell alluded to the potential of Duke players having more success with the NFL in the coming years.

"Duke football players are being viewed differently. I think we're being seen more as NFL prospects and not just smart guys that play football."

Cockrell said his agent has been receiving positive feedback from NFL teams since his performance and interviews at the Combine. Among the interested parties in the Waxhaw, N.C., native are his hometown Carolina Panthers.

Cockrell will likely begin conducting team visits following the conclusion of Pro Day, but for now he's just trying to give the type of gritty performance in front of the scouts that he became known throughout his Duke career.

"I just want to go out there and show that I'm not going to back down from a challenge," he said.


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