Nick Cavallo Interview
I recently had a chance to interview Nick Cavallo, a defensive end-outside linebacker from Purdue who is eligible for the 2007 NFL Draft. Special thanks to his agent, John Pace of Real Game Sports Management for making this possible.
Cavallo was named the 2006 Special Teams Player of the Year at Purdue, as well as the Game Captain on Sept. 30 against Notre Dame. Cavallo, who backed up All-Americans Ray Edwards and Anthony Spencer the past three years, is ready to prove that he could have started for many teams in the country.
Cavallo's Pro Day results and scouting reports are posted below the interview.
What is your accurate height, weight and 40 time?
6-2, 253 lbs. 4.74.
You ran a 4.74 in the 40 and benched 225 lbs. 20 times at your Pro Day. How do you feel this has affected your draft stock?
It did not hurt me; I wish I could have run faster, but you never know what teams are thinking or looking for. As far as my draft stock, we will find out soon.
Excluding Pro Day, what has your schedule been like the past few months leading up to the draft?
I have been in Cincinnati training for the last two months. We trained twice a day, five days a week, breaking it up into speed and strength training. After training, I did a lot of eating and resting, mixing in a little video-game playing to keep me sane.
Which video game(s)?
I tried my hand at NCAA College Football and Madden 2007, but I'm not that good, so I stick with the games I do best at, Tiger Woods Golf and Fight Night.
What would you say is your greatest strength on the football field, and what is something you need to improve upon?
I feel that my greatest strength is my toughness. When I say that, I don't mean just physical toughness; I mean mental toughness as well. Football is very physical, but if you're mentally weak, you will get beaten. I have learned to accept my position as a role player in college. Unfortunately for me, my last three years were spent backing up two All-Americans (Ray Edwards and Anthony Spencer). Some players cannot handle the role of going from being the "man" in college to being a role player in the NFL. That's where I have the edge, been there done that, and I'm looking forward to doing it again. Just give me the chance.
One area that I feel I need to improve is my lateral movement; you can never be too fast.
So, what are you doing to improve your lateral movement?
I've been working really hard with my trainer in Cincinnati on side-to-side drills and movements. We have been doing a lot of linebacker drills to help with that. The biggest thing for me is just getting used to moving laterally because I wasn't asked to do that much at the collegiate level.
Who's the best player you've played against?
Levi Brown from Penn State. He is powerful and has strong hands.
Which NFL player would you compare yourself to? What similarities do you share with him?
I don't know if I could say that I'm like any one player because I watch film on players I played with in the past, as well as the best defensive minds in the NFL, and I try to take something from each of them and incorporate it into my game. One of the players that I have studied would be Shaun Phillips; I played with him my first two years at Purdue, and he has one of the quickest get-offs in the NFL, so I try to work on that.
What did you learn from playing with great players like Ray Edwards, Anthony Spencer and Shaun Phillips?
All three of them taught me a lot; each one of them in different ways. With Shaun, he educated me on the things about college football that the coaches can't. You know, the "things" you won't find in any textbook or NCAA Football handbook. With Spencer and Edwards, it was a little different because we all came in together. They taught me to handle and cope with the mental aspect of the game.
In the end, we were all there helping each other every day. We might have watched/broke down films together, trained together or simply helped one another prepare for the upcoming game. Even though we were competing for the same position, we realized that if we all worked together, our team would be more successful.
Which player are you looking forward to playing against in the pros, and why?
I look forward to playing against anyone, as long as I have a chance to prove myself. That's all I ask. Being able to play football and calling football my profession is a dream come true, and I know that opportunities in the NFL are not just given to players -- they are earned and well deserved. It is the greatest job in the world.
What are your goals as far as the draft is concerned, in terms of where you’ll be selected?
Well, you know everybody likes to hear their name called on Draft Day, so hopefully I will get picked up late on the second day, but if not, I'm fine with a free-agent deal. All I want is a chance to get into camp and prove myself to a team.
Some critics would say that you’re not big enough for a defensive end and not quick enough to play outside linebacker. What would you say to them, and where do you see yourself playing in the NFL (in terms of position)?
Well, first off, I can see myself either being a rush end or a linebacker in a 3-4 defense. As for the critics, all I can say is give me a chance, and I will prove them wrong. Also, if you look at the linebackers in a 3-4, I have just as much speed as all of them playing right now. And for the critics saying I'm too small to play end, all they have to do is look at the Super Bowl champs. I am taller and just as big -- if not bigger -- than both of their starting ends.
Are there any NFL teams out there that you feel operate in a specific scheme/system that cater toward your strengths?
The Steelers, Browns, Chargers and Jets; I feel that because of my size and speed, I can fit into a lot of defensive schemes. I am a hybrid; I can play both end and linebacker.
Are there any under-the-radar underclassmen at Purdue that you see developing into stars at either the collegiate or the professional level?
I don't know how under-the-radar he is, but I feel that Clif Avil is going to have a big year at defensive end.
What’s the greatest moment in your football career?
It happened my senior year. I was named Game Captain against Notre Dame, and my father was there to see it.
Can you talk more about being named Game Captain versus the Fighting Irish?
At Purdue, besides the regular team captains, the coaches vote on captains for the game as well. The way they vote is based on your performance from last week's game or over the year. The week before the Notre Dame game we played Minnesota, and I played extremely well. Because of that, I was voted Game Captain. The great part was that it just so happened that my father and his friends were going to be at the game, so it worked out well. To me, that was really special because I know how proud it made my dad feel.
Which NFL team did you like growing up, and who was your favorite player?
I was a Giants fan all the way, and my two favorite players were Steven Backer and LT, of course.
What do you plan on doing once your NFL career is over?
I have always been interested in the FBI and Secret Service, so I probably will venture into that field of work.
If there was one thing you could tell an NFL team about yourself (i.e. your on-the-field skills, personality, work ethic, etc.) what would that be?
I would say that my work ethic is like one you have never seen before, and that I am willing to do whatever is asked of me. I will give it my all every time that I step onto the playing field.
Nick Cavallo's Pro Day Results
D.O.B. 11/26/82 Height 6-2 Weight 251 40 Time 4.74 Short Shuttle 4.58 Three-Cone 7.13 Bench Press 20 Vertical 29½ Broad Jump 9'5"
Nick Cavallo's Scouting Report
Nick was in the unfortunate situation to always be backing up an ALL-AMERICAN/ALL BIG TEN player: Ray Edwards 2004 and Anthony Spencer 2005 & 2006. Cavallo was named Game Captain on Sept. 30, 2006 versus Notre Dame. He was named 2006 Special Teams player of the year.
In 2005 Cavallo owned the team’s longest kick return of the season at 25 yards. Cavallo was named special teams’ player of the game against Minnesota in 2006, where he registered 4 tackles in route to holding Minnesota’s No. 1 ranked kickoff return team (average 42.8 yards per return) to an average of just 11.6 yards.
At the completion of the 2006-2007 campaign, Cavallo was again recognized by his coaching staff and received Purdue’s Leonard Wilson Award for Unselfishness and Dedication.
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