An early entry junior DT from Mississippi State, Fletcher Cox is coming of a pretty huge season in 2011. With 14.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks, Cox is one of the top DTs in the draft. At 6’4” 300 lbs he has pretty good size to go with his athleticism. His 2012 Combine only increased his draft stock and he falls a bit off the theme of this week being 2-3 round players. Cox is mostly likely going in the late first round, but we didn’t get to him last week. In my opinion, we probably should have flopped Cox and Crick on publishing dates. Cox is definitely the higher projected and ceiling project at the moment.
Cox showed fantastic speed for the defensive line at the combine, registering a 4.79 40 with a 1.63 10 yard split. His strong speed/explosiveness off the blocks really makes him a capable pass rusher as a DT. His strength is solid (30 bench) but nothing to truly write home about. Luckily he still has plenty of room to add size and strength with his current frame.
One warning sign about Cox is the fact that he started the 2011 season in suspension. Some point to his on the field mean streak as a positive but off the field it appears to be at least something to consider. The suspension was an undisclosed violation of team rules, but it is still not encouraging to see any potential draftee to have previous behavior issues.
He also is a pretty average tackler. I wouldn’t say that he is bad but he isn’t necessarily a good tackler. As Colts fans that could be a bit uninspiring as we’re pretty used to watching backs run right through the arms of our DTs. This brings us to the prospect of him switching positions at the NFL level as well. His size, speed and athleticism peg him more for a 3-4 DE than that big NT that the Colts would require in the middle.
Overall, Cox has great upside and is a late first rounder to early second round draftee. As a physical specimen at his position there isn’t much better out there. He’s got a wide wingspan, with strong hands and is only going to be 22 at the midway point in the season. Certainly he’s a potential guy to re-build a 3-4 line around if he continues to grow. He is still somewhat of a project and would be drafted more on potential than his current skill set. He’s good but not great. Cox has the potential to be amazing though.