“I’ll definitely be clutching my phone to make sure I don’t miss any phone calls. It’ll definitely be nice to go out there and watch them compete," Cockrell said. "I t’s going to help me take my mind off things, and it’s going to be a great opportunity to see them and support them.”
Cockrell will await the start of his professional football career when the 2014 NFL draft kicks off Thursday night with the first round from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Rounds two and three will take place Friday night and rounds four through seven will be held Saturday afternoon.
I know that those teams are interested in me or they wouldn’t have flown me up there, but I don’t know if that means that they are the most interested teams. Some clubs do it differently."
On the field, Cockrell's resume speaks for itself. Duke's all-time leader with 12 interceptions and 41 pass breakups in his four-year career, the 22-year-old was named first-team All-ACC in each of his final two seasons. He also earned a nod as an honorable mention All-America from Sports Illustrated following his junior season and was a team captain for two years, leading the Blue Devils to back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time in program history.
"They were blown away, and should be, by Ross and the person he is," said Duke head coach David Cutcliffe of NFL teams' reactions following Cockrell's Pro Day. " I think what a lot of these guys are seeing... is Ross’ poise. He’s really, really smart and got great integrity."
Cockrell is not Duke's only NFL draft hopeful this weekend. Defensive ends Kenny Anunike and Justin Foxx, running back Juwan Thompson and wide receiver Brandon Braxton also participated in the team's annual Pro Day. None are expected to be drafted this weekend, but could find themselves scooped up as undrafted free agents.
Should Cockrell be selected this weekend, Duke will have NFL draft picks in consecutive years for the first time since 1999-2000. Former Blue Devil quarterback Sean Renfree was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the seventh round of the 2013 draft.
The conclusion to Cockrell's draft-day journey will be a long-awaited one. With the NFL pushing the date of its draft back two weeks this year, prospects around the country have grown anxious amid speculation of their professional futures. It also results in a quick turnaround time for the start of their NFL careers, with rookie minicamps slated to start May 12.
"I’m definitely ready for it. I’ve missed actually playing the game of football, being around a team, a locker room," Cockrell said. “I’m ready to know what my next step is going to be.”
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