NFL Draft 2014: The Best All-American Prospect You've Never Heard of

Scotty McGrawCorrespondent IIIDecember 30, 2013

Sep 14, 2013; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils cornerback Ross Cockrell (6) intercepts the ball in front of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets wide receiver Darren Waller (88) at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Duke Blue Devils CB Ross Cockrell has been a cornerstone for his defensive unit since 2010. He has received accolades such as a 2012 All-American Honorable Mention from Sports Illustrated, and multiple academic awards. Cockrell graduated from the prestigious university with a political science degree and a certificate in market and management studies. 

Cockrell is trusted off the field, along with on the gridiron. The RS Senior has locked down receivers from the ACC and beyond, which is reinforced by his football-related accolades. 

Cockrell, however, has not been gaining the national attention like Michigan State Spartans CB Darqueze Dennard has drawn. Yes, Dennard is a better cornerback than Cockrell, but nonetheless Cockrell has been shoved out of the spotlight.

Cockrell is very good in man coverage, and his 6'0", 185-pound frame allows him to keep up with opposing wideouts. 

Nov 16, 2013; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils Associate Head Coach Scottie Montgomery jumps in the arms of cornerback Ross Cockrell (6) after Cockrell broke up a Miami Hurricanes pass at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Spor
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Cockrell's main issue is that he is occasionally tentative when shedding downfield blockers and making tackles in traffic. When Cockrell is "playing simple football", he is at the top of his game. 

Cockrell strives at locating the ball and knocking it away. He is rarely thrown to, but has knocked down many passes thrown in his direction. 

The Duke Blue Devil will be very productive for his team wherever he lands. Cockrell will be able to play special teams, and eventually receive legitimate playing time on the defensive side of the ball.