Jabril Cox - Linebacker, LSU
By the numbers:
6'3", 233 pounds. 32-3/4" arms per Senior Bowl measurements.
2020: 58 tackles (6.5 for loss), five passes broken up, three interceptions and a sack in 10 games played.
Jabril Cox is a linebacker who excels in coverage. He has great instincts in both man and zone, his play speed (acceleration, top-end and closing) is very good and his hips are fluid. He changes direction quickly and can cover both tight ends and running backs with little trouble. Cox possesses sideline-to-sideline range and is as good of a cover linebacker as this class presents.
Cox is also a proven playmaker. He has nine career interceptions and plays the football after spying on the quarterback. He reacts quickly and has good processing speed. Cox shoots through gaps when left unblocked and can disrupt plays — both running and passing — when given the opportunity. He's a high-character player who accepted a leadership role during his lone season at LSU and handled the transition from FCS football to the SEC with grace. In a test of both his wit and skill, he passed with flying colors.
While Cox is a willing tackler, he doesn't take great angles to the football. This makes him more of a reactionary player in run support despite having the requisite toughness and size to make a big difference in that regard. He makes the occasional "thumper" play but to maximize his potential in the NFL, he'll have to do it more frequently.
In general, embracing a physical brand of football could be the key that unlocks everything for Cox. He has the strength to stack and shed near the line of scrimmage, as well as the speed to close hard on run plays before they develop. Being more decisive in the run game and fully committing to his assignments will help. These minor issues can be coached out of him at the next level, and he already shows flashes of being that kind of well-rounded player.
How Cox fits with the Chiefs:
The Chiefs are losing Damien Wilson to free agency, so replacing him at the SAM linebacker spot will be a point of emphasis this offseason. Elsewhere, Anthony Hitchens' contract runs through 2022 and the team is fully invested in Willie Gay Jr. Cox would likely be a base WILL in Kansas City, as his coverage skills would be welcomed additions to the linebacker room. He probably isn't a fit for the SAM role, although Gay may occupy that spot with more regularity in 2020.
Cox is a top cover linebacker in this year's draft. A smart player with the ability to adapt to new situations, he's boosted his draft stock as of late. There are minor concerns that should be ironed out over time, but his athleticism converting directly to plus ability in coverage can't really be taught. If the Chiefs are looking for a base package player with range and a sky-high ceiling, Cox is their guy. He grades out firmly as a second-round pick.