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Road to the draft: Walt Aikens


Position: Cornerback
School: Liberty
Measurements: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
Career stats: 194 tackles, seven interceptions, 22 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, three sacks.
Draft projection: Fourth-fifth round.

Lowdown: Aikens turned heads at the Senior Bowl in January, showing that he belonged with his counterparts from bigger schools. Despite the impressive showing, he did not receive and invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine in February. At Liberty’s Pro Day last month, he ran a reported 4.46-second 40-yard dash, although it came on the school’s track, a faster surface than FieldTurf. Aikens also reportedly did 13 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and had a 35-inch vertical leap. … A first-team All-Big South selection in 2013 after making a team-high 62 tackles and three inteceptions. … Has the size and strength teams crave in cornerbacks, and offers the ability to play gunner on special teams. … Played his freshman year as a safety for Illinois, but was kicked off the team before the 2010 season after pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft charges, reportedly for stealing a computer from a dorm room. Served two weeks in jail.

He said it: “I had to make sure everybody at the Senior Bowl knew who I was. I went out there with the mindset that I’ve got to eat. I’m hungry. I’ve got to perform. Right now, it’s all about marketing yourself.”

The Buffalo News is profiling 50 prospects in 50 days leading up to the NFL Draft, which begins May 8.

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.