Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State) tape review

January 21st, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

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

11 Responses to “Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State) tape review”

  1. dave crockett says:

    Any thoughts on Missouri’s Dominque Hamilton as a 3rd or 4th round possibility at 3-technique. I could see Seattle passing on defensive line help until later.

    I’ve been a Hamilton fan and read that he’s done well this week in practices. (I didn’t see the game, but read that Mayock put him on his “made money this week” list.

  2. Rob says:

    Hi Dave, he’s not a player I’ve had the chance to really get a look at – I’ll see if I can get some tape.

  3. NMD says:

    I like Fletcher Cox a lot, I think aggressiveness will fit well with Bryant, Branch, and Mebane. If he slips to the 2nd I don’t there’s a guy projected there I would rather have right now.

  4. williambryan says:

    Like you said, it looks like he could really benefit from learning how to use his hands/arms a lot better.

  5. ivotuk says:

    Wow, this guy must be in phenomenal shape! I almost like him as much as I like Melvin Ingram. With some coaching Fletcher could tear in to most offensive lines like a wolverine tearing in to a caribou carcass :) I like that he plays all over the line too. This is a guy with attitude, the kind of attitude it takes to succeed in the NFL.

  6. Doug says:

    Yea, I like guys like this who are derailed runaway trainwrecks. Can this guy make it with pro-coaching? I think he could really help some team. #12? hmmm. But a tradedown pickup? looking better.

  7. Seahawk Steve says:

    With the passing of Joe Paterno I want to pay a little homage to “JoePa”. When I first started coaching in West Texas, I really had no idea how to go about coaching football. I played the game in high and college, but coaching is far more difficult. I began to read books on how to coach, but what I really needed was to see it. I searched around for some video tape and the only thing available at the time was a series from Joe Paterno “How to coach football”. I watched the tapes over and over again and styled my methods after Paterno’s. I had a great coaching career both in Texas and here I Washington. Thanks Joe for all the help and inspiration you gave me. I was able to pass along your message to hundreds of young men through the years. I will miss you.
    Seahawk Steve

  8. Rob says:

    Nice story Steve, thanks for sharing it.

  9. Tezlin says:

    This guy seems to have good ball awareness. Did it seem like he also avoided cut blocks pretty effectively? I only saw it a few times but each time he seemed to maintain his footing. I didn’t like his spin move, it seemed pretty ineffectual.

  10. jim J says:

    I like the effort and the pursuit of the ball carrier. Seems a little slow off the snap sometimes, but has an awesome bull rush. Could be really good with some coaching.

    I would like to get him in round 2 or 3.

  11. Jeff says:

    He would be a great pick up in the 2nd round. This guy played with KJ Wright in college and you all know how that turned out. I like his intensity but he needs some coaching with a swim move and needs to learn how not to get turned by the opposing O-line. He has great speed for a big man and can play either DE or DT. Will probably have a better career in the pros than Devon Still or Michael Brockers taken before him.