This year’s NFL Draft came and went without a single Villanova player being drafted. “Mr. Irrelevant” went to Memphis Safety Lonnie Ballentine. Since the Houston Texans made that closing pick of the draft, a few Wildcats have made some noise in the NFL world. Defensive Lineman Rakim Cox, Wide Receiver Joe Price, and Offensive Lineman Josh Bucci have captured the attention of some NFL teams and will have a chance to prove their worth.
It didn’t take long for the Minnesota Vikings to reach out to sign Rakim Cox, the defensive anchor for the Villanova Wildcats. At this year’s Villanova pro day, he performed before an audience that included scouts from 15 different NFL teams. He was named First Team All-CAA for his play this season. Cox tallied 30 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and 9 sacks. He also stood out on special teams for blocking two extra point attempts and one field goal. Through his four years as a starter, Cox has totaled 105 tackles (33.5 for loss), 18 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and a pair of interceptions. The Vikings have signed the 6’4″, 260 pound lineman as an undrafted free agent. He is the only one out of the three Wildcats to have officially signed onto a team. He will work hard to make the final 53-man roster.
A few days after the Rakim Cox signing, Villanova Football was proud to announce another player getting a shot to make a NFL team. Although he missed five weeks of the season, he was given a chance by the Detroit Lions to attend camp. Price sustained an injury to his vertebrae, forcing him to miss a good chunk of the season. While the road to recovery was hard, he was able to stay positive and to put all of his focus onto just getting better. The end result? He returned just in time for the final game against rival Delaware, where he put together a fine performance that was crucial for the comeback. Price caught five passes for 103 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns. At Villanova’s pro day, he clocked in at 4.6 seconds for the 40 yard dash. While his speed might not be lights out at the NFL level, he has demonstrated that he has some great hands that make him a possession receiver. He has also shown that he can block, a skill that is somewhat overlooked or under- appreciated for wide receivers.
Last but not least, comes the most recent Wildcat to garner some NFL buzz, Josh Bucci. He’s hard to miss, standing 6’6″ and weighing in at 335 pounds. His size is something that the NFL scouts who attended Villanova’s pro day definitely took notes on. He attended camp for the Washington Redskins on Thursday and like Price, he will be playing for a spot on the team before he can even worry about the 53-man roster. Bucci was a starter for four seasons and received Second Team All-CAA honors in his last two years. He was also named to this year’s CAA All-Academic Team. Bucci has experience at both the guard and tackle positions and was an important piece to lifting Villanova’s rushing attack to being 8th best in the nation.
Best of luck to these three Wildcats, we’ll keep an eye on them as well as if there are any more signings.
*All player pictures are from the Villanova Athletics website