‘Cats hope to have name called on Draft Day

Stephen Buszka

For over a month there have been a slew of debates regarding the NFL draft. Much attention has been paid to issues such as whom the Texans will take with the first pick, whether Vince Young’s Wonderlic scores predict an NFL failure and worries about LenDale White’s physical condition. For those who have been following the draft, the binging of speculation will all be purged on April 29, 2006, when the first rounds of the draft are completed. However, for a couple of Villanova Wildcats, the big draft day will be Day Two, Sunday. Two members of the football team, wide receiver J. J. Outlaw and defensive end Darrell Adams, will be glued to the TV and hovering near their phones in hopes of receiving “the call.” Both players have had very successful careers as Villanova Wildcats and hope to hear their phones ring on Sunday.

J. J. Outlaw, a 187-pound wide receiver, is cautiously optimistic about his draft prospects. Knowing that being drafted is a rare opportunity which few athletes have the privilege to even hope for, Outlaw just wants to get his foot in the door. “Any way that I can sign with a team will be great for me,” the 22-year-old senior from Columbia, M.D. said, adding, “Realistically I’ll probably be a free agent.”

Although he would be glad to play for anyone wishing to call upon his services, staying instate would be preferable. “I do feel that Philadelphia is a good fit for me,” he said.

If Outlaw’s name is called on April 30th or he is subsequently signed as a free agent, the multi-talented WR knows he can bring a lot to a team.

“I’m someone who is capable of running, receiving and returning punts and kickoffs,” he said.

His versatility is, by far, his best asset. As a sophomore in 2003, he led the Atlantic 10 conference in all-purpose yards with 135.5 yards per game. This included 704 receiving, 243 rushing, 261 punt return and 292 kickoff return yards. The following year he posted similar numbers in the receiving, rushing and punt return categories. In the 2005 campaign, the five-foot-eight senior truly shined. He posted the best receiving numbers of his college career, leading the team with 83 receptions for 878 yards. He also scored a personal collegiate-high seven touchdowns. Not limiting himself to a receiving threat, he was also the team’s second-leading rusher with 241 yards and even found the end zone once on the ground. Outlaw had a solid performance at the combine where he recorded a time of 4.50 in the 40-yard dash and a 33-inch vertical leap.

If the NFL does not call his name, Outlaw does have a back-up plan. “I see myself working in the sports field somewhere,” he said. “I will have a degree in communication, so I believe that it will help me acquire a job in sports on some level.”

The other Wildcat anxiously awaiting Draft Day is defensive end Darrell Adams. Several scouting sites have Adams rated among the top-30 in his position. His stock was higher last year, but dropped a bit due to an injury that prevented him from having the dominant year everyone was expecting.

“Prior to this year I was rated amongst the top-20 and projected as high as the 5th round, but I had and injury-plagued season and a bad showing at the combine which caused my stock to drop,” Adams said. “If I were to get drafted, it wouldn’t be until the 7th round.”

Most projections concur with his statement. The six-foot-four senior is projected to be drafted in the mid-7th round, but some projections have him as high as a sixth round selection while others predict he will not be drafted at all.

Not being selected would not be the end of the world, Adams says, because he also has a backup plan. “I’m actually working on free agent deals with a few teams now in case I don’t get drafted.” He did not disclose which teams he is in negotiations with.

It is no surprise teams are showing interest in him. In four years at Villanova, the marketing major from Bayshore, N. Y. recorded 12 1/2 sacks and 163 total tackles. Scouts, Inc., a professional scouting service, points out that he “possesses an intriguing combination of size, quickness and strength.” Citing the fact that he was a team captain and is a good leader, the report went on to point out that he is “a good student in the classroom and in the film room” and has “solid overall intangibles.” The 277-pound defensive lineman performed respectably at the combine with 40-yard dash times of 4.86 and 4.89 and a 29 1/2 inch vertical leap.

Regardless of where he ends up, Adams, a pre-season All-American and three-time Atlantic-10 first-team all-conference, just wants to play the game he loves. Having no particular team he hopes to play for, Adams did point out that playing locally for the Eagles, Giants or Jets would be nice. Nevertheless, he appreciates the opportunity he has been given.

“There are millions of people who would love to be in my shoes, and I try not to take it for granted,” he said. “I enjoy playing the game; it’s not only about the money.”

These two Wildcats hope to join the ranks of other former Villanova gridiron stars in the NFL. Of these, the most notable is Brian Westbrook ’01 who was drafted with the 26th pick in the 3rd round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He has gone on to considerable success as the full-time starting half-back of the Eagles and has posted over 900 all-purpose yards and seven total touchdowns in three of his first four seasons.

Brian Finneran ’98, winner of the Walter Payton Award as well as Westbrook, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Eagles and spent the 1999 season with them before leaving for Atlanta, where he has spent the last seven years playing with the Falcons. Other Wildcats in the NFL include running back Terry Butler (’04) who was signed this past December by the Jets after several stints on their practice squad, and safety Raymond Ventrone (’04) who is currently a member of the Patriots’ practice squad.