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Villanova Football: 2014 Pro-Day draws significant interest from NFL scouts

Fifteen NFL franchises were represented at Villanova football's senior pro-day today, according to reports.

Villanova holds a pro-day for graduating senior football players whenever it is reasonable to do so. With a number of talented seniors this Spring, the program scheduled their pro-day workouts -- essentially a small-scale local version of the NFL's combine -- for today at YSC Sports.

Fifteen NFL teams showed up for the event, which also featured some athletes from other small schools in the region, including two participants from Shippensburg University and at least one from St. Francis. The scouts in attendance, however, were heavily interested in Villanova's star defensive end, Rakim Cox. ranked Cox as the 4th best small-school defensive end in this Spring's draft and projected that he could be picked up by a team in the late rounds. That site also listed WR Joe Price, OG Josh Bucci, NT Antoine Lewis, CB Craig James and P Mark Hamilton as players who could receive post-draft interest by professional teams.

Villanova's two offensive linemen as well as Cox are apparently on the radar for the New York Giants, according to a fan site. The main attraction at the event, was the defensive end, however.

Whether or not the defender is drafted will depend greatly on how he performs in workouts today, as well as any follow-up workouts that might be held at team facilities. There may also be a factor of luck involved in the proceedings, depending on how things go down at the multi-day draft.

The NFL's scouts often use 10-Yard split times to judge defensive ends and outside linebackers -- the folks who are rushing the passer on the edges -- to determine how fast they can get up to full speed. It is an indicator of how fast he can explode off the ball and cover the distance between the line of scrimmage and the passer. A 10-yard split in the low 1.60s would be about average for a drafted NFL DE/OLB.

In 48 career games on the Main Line, Cox recorded 18 sacks and 33.5 tackles for loss,  along with 105 total tackles, 16 breakups, four forced fumbles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. He also blocked three kicks on special teams and became a consummate playmaker in his final two seasons.

He has the ability to drop back as a 3-4 outside linebacker or to play at defensive end. His pass-rushing skills should only improve with more coaching and speed/strength training. He caught the eyes of NFL scouts with his performance at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game after the season ended, picking up five tackles and pressuring the QB.

Whether Cox is drafted remains to be seen, but scouts seem to like what they've seen so far. Villanovans can likely expect that number-99 will suit up somewhere in training camp this summer.