The next few weeks here on State of the Texans we will be doing some draft profiles of some particular players who could possibly fit into the Texans plans. We are not going to try to piece together scouting reports, but we enlist help of bloggers who actually cover the respective player and their school.
We enlisted the help of For Whom the Cowbell Tolls a blog dedicated to the Mississippi State Bulldogs and we look at defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Cox is rising up draft boards and looks to be a sure-fire first day draft pick, and the 6'4" 295 lbs. junior said it was a "tough decision" to forego his senior season. Cox is an intriguing prospect and looks like he could play in any defensive scheme, and NFL teams are taking notice.
Can you give us a some background on Cox?
Cox is a defensive tackle who came to Mississippi State by way of Yazoo City, Mississippi. He came out of high school as the of the top defensive ends in the country, but the coaches quickly started putting weight on him and moved him to the interior. His freshman year he contributed in all 12 games, and started 4. In 2010 (Sophomore Yr.) Fletcher started 11 game, and did finish with 6.5 TFL despite some ankle issues late in the year. This year Fletcher his another level, recording 14.5 TFL and 5 sacks. That's in addition to the numerous QB hurries that you don't see recorded in a stat sheet. Outside of the ankle injury problems last year, Cox has been a steadfast part of this defense for the past 3 seasons and a leader up front.
How important was Cox to the Bulldogs team in 2011?
Quite frankly, Cox meant the world to this team in 2011. It may not have shown with State's 7-6 final record, but Fletcher did so much for this team. He is a rare talent in that many talented guys in his position can go unnoticed during a game and still make an impact, but when Fletcher is "on" you know he's out there. He is hands down the best defensive lineman I've seen play at State in my time as a State fan.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths- Cox is an elite athlete, for his size and really for anybody. He displayed that by blocking two kicks in a game this season, and 5 for his career. He has a high motor and can shed blocks with a good first step/burst. He can play in multiple sets (4-3, 3-4) as he's had to playing for multiple DC's over the course of his career.
Weaknesses-Really the only knock there is on Fletcher is that he can be TOO high motored and aggressive at times, causing him to overshoot plays. His pass rush technique still needs some work.
Is he making the right choice coming out early?
Even though I'm a State fan and I would have loved to have seen Cox come back for his Senior year, I think it was absolutely the right time for him to enter the NFL draft. Even though State didn't have its best year, Cox was phenomenal, especially in the last several games. I think scouts really started to take notice in his abilities late in the year and I think his current projection, in the mid-first round, would only be hurt by playing another season. Not saying Fletch couldn't have been drafted in the top 5 or so with another solid year, but if you believe in the old adage "go out on top," he certainly did.
How do you see him projecting at the next level?
I think Cox projects very well at the next level. Whenever you take a guy with his talent level and his drive and discipline, it usually ends up well. He has, in my opinion, the ability to be a pro-bowler if he can stay injury free. We certainly wish him the best.