The deadline for NFL prospects to make pre-draft visits is a week away, but the Bills are still working to get their last few questions about players answered. On Wednesday Buffalo hosted Villanova offensive tackle Ben Ijalana.
The FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) lineman missed just one of 53 games in his college career, but played his last four with a double hernia. The injury required surgery at the end of the season and it kept him from playing in the Senior Bowl, working out at the NFL combine and performing at his school’s pro day in mid-March.
The Bills presumably want to get the most up to date medical information on how Ijalana is healing now almost four months removed from surgery as they’ve done with some of the other pre-draft visitors.
“He is a really good football player with a lot of upside,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. “He’s a He played a lot of the last four games with a double hernia. That’ll show how tough a kid he is. He’s got great feet, long arms. He’s not as tall as they like. He’s barely 6’4” so some think he might kick inside, but he’s got the feet and arm length to stay outside.”
Ijalana’s arms measured 36 inches at the combine, among the longest in the draft class and considered a major asset for an NFL offensive tackle trying to keep pass rushers at bay.
“Wherever a team wants to put me I’ll play,” he said. “I’ve been playing offensive tackle for last eight years, but the way coaching is now, you can get coached up to play anywhere on offensive line.”
After helping Villanova win an FCS national title in 2009 Ijalana was the only FCS offensive lineman that appeared on the Outland Trophy watch list for best offensive lineman in college football. He’s been widely forecast as a second-round prospect.
“If you can play, they’ll find you,” Ijalana said. “I truly believe that. It’s why I’m here now. There might be knocks on my level of competition, but it’s what you do out on the football field that matters.”
The NFL deadline for pre-draft visits is April 20th.
Throughout the month of April, we are running 2011 NFL Draft prospect stories each week. In addition, Bills fans can vote in the Bills and M&T Bank Draft Day Challenge who they think will be the Bills first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and have the chance to win a Bills Game Day Experience to remember. Five grand prize winners will get sideline passes, M&T Bank Club tickets that include food and beverage, a Bills Alumni meet and greet and a Bills helmet. Click here to vote.