NFL Draft 2012 Fletcher Cox: How High Can He Go, Where Does He Play?

Feb 27, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox walks away after finishing the broad jump during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

As we've discussed the Jacksonville Jaguars can go a lot of different ways in the 2012 NFL Draft. There are plenty of spots on offense the team could go, but there still are a few big holes on defense. With the eye injury to defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, his status for the 2012 season is still kind of up in the air, so the defensive tackle position might be of small concern.

There is a player in the draft who's name seems to keep popping up as a potential Top 10 pick, and that's defensive lineman from Mississippi State Fletcher Cox. I call him "defensive lineman" and not defensive tackle because there is a wide belief that Cox could be a left end in a 43 defense if he sheds a little bit of weight, because he's very explosive off the snap and shows good pass rushing ability from inside and out. Some have even called him the "non-scary version of Quinton Coples."

The cut up I'm going to break down for Cox today is his match up with Alabama from the 2011 season. Cox matches up often with Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones, who has started all over the offensive line and will likely be a high pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. As always, the cut up is courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com.

On the second play of the game, Cox is lined up over the right guard and right off the snap you can see how quick he is. He blows right past the interior lineman and gets into the backfield, disrupting the run and helping stop it for a loss.

On the very next play, Cox shows why some teams like his versatility and his ability to play the left end position at the next level. Cox explodes off the snap of the ball getting right into the right tackle, then easily rips away and comes inside, but gets dragged down by the right tackle. Probably could have been a holding call, but Cox beat the lineman off the snap and began to collapse the pocket forcing the Alabama quarterback to dump off the football.

The next handful of plays are Cox matching up against some running plays and you can see he does a nice job of holding the point and getting into the backfield to disrupt the flow of the running play. On one play, Cox even splits the double team of the Alabama offensive line forcing Trent Richardson to pick a new lane.

As mentioned, you can see in the games that Cox is an explosive athlete and this was reaffirmed at the NFL Combine where the defensive lineman came in at 6'4" and 298 pounds with a massive wing span and big hands. Cox clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.79 seconds officially, which is fantastic for a player of his size.

The biggest down fall on Cox is that he's not really a technician and could use some coaching how to shed blocks and utilize rip moves. He will at times try to rely too much on his athleticism, which works against most players in the NCAA, but as you can see in some of the plays when he goes against more talented offensive lineman he can get washed out of a play. This isn't because Cox can't handle the lineman, but it's because he just tries to run by or power past them, rather than using a move to get by.

Cox is a player I think will wind up going somewhere in the Top 15 and could go as high as No. 6 overall if the St. Louis Rams don't decide to take a wide receiver. He's someone I think will be high on the Jaguars draft board if they're stuck at the No. 7 overall pick or even if they slide down a few spots.

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