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Ross Cockrell set to begin rookie minicamp with Buffalo Bills

(05/16/14 11:34am)

One week after being selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, former Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell will put on his pads for the first time as a professional when his new team convenes for its rookie minicamp Saturday through Monday. Before taking in his first weekend as an NFL player, Cockrell caught up with The Chronicle's Daniel Carp to discuss his draft day experience and future in Buffalo.

Rodney Hood to compete at NBA Draft Combine, Jabari Parker will not

(05/12/14 9:29pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The NBA released its official list of the 60 players competing at the NBA Draft Combine, which will take place May 14-18 in Chicago. Former Blue Devil Rodney Hood will participate, but Duke's Jabari Parker will be one of the event's major absences.Parker, along with Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins and center Joel Embiid, has elected to skip the Combine. The trio are considered to be the consensus top three prospects in this year's loaded NBA Draft class. Embiid has not been cleared for full contact drills following a lingering back injury that kept him out of the NCAA tournament. Parker and Wiggins are simply electing to hold private workouts with teams entered in this year's draft lottery.Hood will compete against the rest of the NBA's top draft prospects at the Combine. This year's participants are headlined by Australian point guard Dante Exum and Kentucky big man Julius Randle.Blue Devil guard Andre Dawkins did not receive an invitation to the Combine after averaging 21.3 points per game and shooting 43.7 percent from behind the NBA 3-point line at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in April.

Cockrell: 'Next year is going to be even better' for Duke in NFL Draft

(05/12/14 9:07pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Just a day after he was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, former Blue Devil cornerback Ross Cockrell said the horizon is only getting brighter for Duke football in the NFL.Cockrell—the team's lone draft pick in 2014 and the earliest Blue Devil drafted in 15 years—said he expects Duke to have multiple draft picks a year from now and that some could go higher than he did."I think next year it's going to be even better," Cockrell said. "There's going to be more guys drafted and they're going to be drafted earlier."Fresh off an ACC Coastal Division title, the 2014 Blue Devils will take the field brimming with senior talent and NFL hopefuls. Cockrell identified wide receiver Jamison Crowder and guard Laken Tomlinson as two players who could supplant him as Duke's earliest draft picks in the 21st century."You have to start off with Laken and Jamison," he said. "Those guys are going to be the head of the class, if they stay healthy."Other players Cockrell identified as NFL prospects included quarterback Anthony Boone, running back Josh Snead, tight end Braxton Deaver, tackle Takoby Cofield and linebackers Kelby Brown and David Helton.Cockrell added that as Duke continues to solidify itself as a winning program on Saturdays, more Blue Devils will find their way to playing on Sundays."They may not all get drafted, but you're going to have a bunch of guys getting look at by NFL teams and building the Duke football brand in the NFL."A way-too-early look at Duke's 2015 NFL Draft hopefuls:Wide receiver Jamison Crowder (Sr., 5'9", 175 lbs.)Will assert himself as one of the ACC's most explosive weapons as a senior. Could have been drafted this year after setting the conference's single-season receptions record but decided to return for his final season.Offensive guard Laken Tomlinson (RSr., 6'3", 320 lbs.)Has the combination of size and athleticism that NFL teams want. Will graduate from Duke as a four-year starter and has led an impressive offensive line group during that stretch.Linebacker Kelby Brown (RSr., 6'2", 230 lbs.)Earned freshman All-America honors before injuries forced him off the gridiron. Bounced back with a strong junior season, racking up 114 tackles. Demonstrates strong leadership qualities.Running back Josh Snead (RSr., 5'9", 170 lbs.)Has the combination of breakaway speed and pass-catching ability out of the backfield that teams have come to covet in the late rounds in recent years. With the graduation of Juwan Thompson and suspension of Jela Duncan will have more opportunities as a featured back as a senior.Tight end Braxton Deaver (RSr., 6'5", 240 lbs.)Quietly successful 39 catch season in 2013. Has the size and athleticism NFL teams want at tight end. Will look to work on blocking in final collegiate season.Quarterback Anthony Boone (RSr., 6', 230 lbs.)Struggled through injuries in first year as a starter and split time under center, but became first signal-caller in Duke history to win first 10 starts. Will need to improve on 13-touchdown, 13-interception season but has history on his side. David Cutcliffe has had seven straight starting quarterbacks reach the NFL, dating all the way back to his days at Tennessee in the late 1990s.Safety Jeremy Cash (RJr., 6'2", 210 lbs.)Breakout year in first Duke season. Will be interesting to watch in 2014. Duke's top defensive playmaker could be the team's strongest candidate to declare early for the draft if he replicates last season's success.Others to watch: Tackle Takoby Cofield, linebacker David Helton, defensive ends Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo and Dezmond Johnson

Anunike, Thompson sign with Denver Broncos as undrafted free agents

(05/11/14 5:45am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Hours after cornerback Ross Cockrell was selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills, Duke continued to work its way into NFL headlines.Defensive end Kenny Anunike and running back Juwan Thompson were both quickly scooped up as undrafted free agents by the Denver Broncos.

Ross Cockrell selected by Buffalo Bills in fourth round of NFL Draft

(05/10/14 8:40pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Former Blue Devil cornerback Ross Cockrell will be trading in one set of royal blue for another as a member of the Buffalo Bills.Buffalo selected Cockrell in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft, 109th overall, Saturday afternoon. He is Duke's earliest selection since center Lennie Freeman was picked in the second round of the 1999 draft.“What a terrific day for Ross – we could not be happier for him and his entire family,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said in a press release. “The Bills are getting a young man of great integrity who will undoubtedly be an asset within their organization. On the field, he’s competed at the highest level with a great deal of success. And without question, Ross is one of the finest—if not the finest—peer leaders I’ve ever been around.”A two-time team captain, Cockrell helped anchor Duke's defensive unit that led the Blue Devils to back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time in program history. During his redshirt senior season, Cockrell earned first-team All-ACC honors for the second straight year after registering 46 tackles, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack. The Waxhaw, N.C., native is Duke's all-time career leader in interceptions with 12 and pass breakups with 41."He’s a winner, has ball skills, has good speed. Every guy we’ve taken so far has been a part of winning program and that is a big thing we’re stressing," said Jim Monos, Buffalo's director of player personnel. "You could see it even at his pro day. Guys gravitate to him and he is the leader of that group."The Bills were one of two teams that brought Cockrell in for a private workout before the draft and have another Duke alum on their roster in quarterback Thad Lewis. Cockrell will join a Buffalo secondary that is highlighted by cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. The team also signed free agent cornerback Corey Graham to a four-year contract this offseason. Buffalo made a splash in the first round by trading up to pick Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins at No. 4 overall.Cockrell becomes Duke's second straight NFL draft pick following quarterback Sean Renfree's selection in the seventh round last year by the Atlanta Falcons. The last time the Blue Devils had draft picks in back-to-back years was the 1999 and 2000 drafts.