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Pro Day: Ijalana draws a crowd

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(UPDATED) According to NFL.com's Jason La Canfora, around half of the NFL's teams will have a representative at Villanova's football Pro Day tomorrow to see offensive line prospect Ben Ijalana work out. A good performance will be perhaps more important than usual, since he was not able to participate in the NFL combine.

There are a few skills that Ijalana will have to demonstrate for scouts, and his quickness in particular will be scrutinized, but his dominance as a left tackle in the college ranks has garnered him plenty of attention.

A number of teams have graded him a late first-round pick, and teams picking in that vicinity are lined up to see what the Villanovan can do. Should Ijalana be picked in the first or second round, it would be the highest a Villanova football player had been picked since the program was revived in 1985. Prior to that, the last second-round pick was Howie Long in the 1981 draft and the last first-round pick was Mike Siani in 1972 (both picked by the Oakland Raiders).

Ijalana has three team visits arranged for next week as well.

UPDATE: Over 50 NFL scouts, coaches and executives showed up to see Villanova's players work out, representing at least 23 NFL teams. For the Eagles fans among you, yes, the local franchise was in attendance (and the Giants sent two scouts and two coaches).

According to Pete Dougherty of the Greenbay Press-Gazette, Ben Ijalana looked healthy despite his recent sports hernia surgery.

He performed well, getting to 27 inches in the vertical jump, 9-feet in the broad jump and running the 40 in times as fast as 5.12. As Dougherty points out, "by comparison, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi, who looks likely to go in the top 20 or 25 picks at worst, ran the 40 slightly slower (5.18 seconds), was noticeably better in the vertical jump (31 ½ inches) and did about the same in the broad jump (9-1)."

Sports Illustrated notes:

Ijalana also received good reviews for his position work during the drills segment. Several teams said they like the versatility of the small school lineman, who they project at both guard and tackle in the NFL.

While considered short for a Left Tackle, many scouts believe that his impressive 36-inch arms can compensate enough to allow him to stay at his college position.

It remains highly-likely that Ijalana will match or beat the top draft position of Villanova's FCS era.

[PHOTO GALLERY]