Fletcher Cox is a little bit like a runaway train. He’s fast, he’s powerful – but also a little off balance and out of control. For a guy playing at 6-4 and 295lbs he’s incredibly athletic and carries his frame well. Sometimes he looks like an unpolished version of Cameron Jordan, with a similar compact frame despite playing at nearly 300lbs yet without the same kind of explosion when playing off the edge.
He’s strong at the point of attack and will consistently get his hands on an offensive lineman and drive them into the pocket. You can see in the tape the amount of times he’s in the backfield through sheer brutality, even if he’s not creating a splash play. Whether he lines up on the edge in a three-man front or inside at tackle, he’s got a productive bull rush and he should be able to cope against the greater physical demands at the next level. Unfortunately he’s not as succesful using his hands to avoid blocks and there’s no real evidence of an effective swim move. Most of his pressure comes from physically outmatching his opponent – especially with that bull rush – which is a shame considering his natural athleticism lends itself to mixing it up with a few finesse moves. He has 7.5 sacks in two years at Mississippi State but even when he’s not the guy making the play, he’ll often shut down zones with pressure.
Cox keeps his feet moving when engaged and shows a decent punch to drive back lineman. He rarely gives up and often makes tackles after the ball is thrown away from the LOS through sheer perseverance. He’s not got the ideal size to act as a stout run stuffer and while he penetrates fairly well playing inside, his greatest aspect comes with his athleticism. He appears more ideally suited to the five-technique, although as mentioned he lacks the kind of explosive edge talent we saw from Jordan at California.
His ‘all-out’ style makes him a bit unbalanced and you’ll see in the tape a few occassions where he loses his footing. Sometimes it only takes minimal contact to send him to the turf and he could probably do a better job of being a more controlled rusher. Can he tone it down a notch to avoid taking himself out of certain plays too early? He’s a bit high at times and loses leverage when lineman get under his pad level. On some of the occassions where he did lose balance, he appeared to be jolted from a slightly upright position because when sprinting at full pace he keeps his back straight.
In a class lacking a lot of great defensive lineman, there’s a chance Cox can really boost his stock with a good combine. He should interest teams using the 3-4 and the likes of Green Bay and New England should be looking at this guy late in the first round. Could he fit for the Seahawks? Certainly he plays with the edge Seattle’s front office is looking for on defense and his brawler style should ensure he’s not a liability even when used on first downs at tackle. He could also play some five-technique snaps without giving too much away against the run, something maybe the Seahawks should consider even though clearly they like what Red Bryant offers at the position. Cox could be a player to monitor in the second round.
Tape vs South Carolina & Wake Forest supplied by JMPasq