Duke's Cockrell selected by Buffalo

May. 10, 2014 @ 01:58 PM

As he did all during his Duke football career, Ross Cockrell made the good kind of history once again on Saturday.

After helping the Blue Devils to a school-record 10 wins last season as a senior, the two-time all-ACC cornerback was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.

That makes Cockrell the first Duke player since defensive end Chris Combs in 2000 to be drafted before the seventh round. Combs was a sixth-round pick by Pittsburgh that year. No Duke player has been selected higher than Cockrell since center Lennie Friedman went in the second round in 1999 to Denver.

With quarterback Sean Renfree going to Atlanta in the seventh round last year, this marks the first time since 1999-2000 that Duke has had players selected in consecutive NFL drafts.

“What a terrific day for Ross – we could not be happier for him and his entire family,” said Duke head coach David Cutcliffe.  “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.”

Cockrell will join quarterback Thad Lewis, his former Duke teammate, with the Bills.

Cockrell came to Duke from Charlotte’s Latin High School, where he was a multi-sport athlete. He tore ligaments in his knee as a senior in 2008 and needed reconstructive surgery before his college career could begin.

After redshirting in 2009, Cockrell stepped into the starting lineup as a freshman in 2010 and was never supplanted. He helped Duke reach the Belk Bowl in 2012, the school’s first bowl game since the 1994 season.

Last season, with Cockrell anchoring the defense, Duke won eight consecutive games to win the ACC Coastal Division championship and play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. It’s the first time in school history Duke played in bowl games in back-to-back seasons.

"He’s a winner," Buffalo Bills director of player personnel Jim Monos told reporters in Buffalo Saturday. "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."