With the NFL draft less than 3 weeks away everyone and their grandma is releasing a new draft every 8.5 seconds. Speculation, conjecture, and the assumption that everyone who disagrees with your favorite draft prospect would only score a 4 on the Wonderlic comes in spades this time of year. I’m here to tell everyone to relax, sit back and learn to accept Fletcher Cox as the right choice for the 2012 Carolina Panthers.
All of this is assuming a major prospect like Matt Kalil or Morris Claiborne does not drop. For obvious reasons I believe that either one would be a better choice for the Panthers than Cox. I am not trying to make Cox the flavor of the month……even though April would be the premium choice for flavor of the month. I’m not going to attack any other potential prospects because who am I say that they are not worthy. I just like what I see out of Cox and as such I believe he should be the 9th pick for the Panthers.
I have heard all of the anti-defensive tackle arguments and I honestly don’t buy a single one. The first and most common argument is that Cox or any of the other top DT prospects are not worth a top ten pick. Fletcher Cox, a 2011 All-American selection, is only a few months removed from his 21st birthday and as such he still has the propensity to add not only to his frame but the ability to refine this technique during the season. Just look at his most recent college season as evidence tantamount to this fact: Cox had 23 tackles 0 sacks in his first 5 games, but had 28 tackles 5 sacks in his last 6(includes a bowl game) as he further refined his game. This led to Cox being awardedSEC defensive lineman of the week 4 times. An All-American prospect at DT who is still refining his trade due to youth!? Yes Please!! The second and sillier anti-defensive tackle argument made is the "We took 2 defensive tackles last year and shouldn’t use our first selection on one this year." I have a few problems with that line of thinking; first of all, if a position is considered a position of need then a team should always be looking to upgrade the position irrespective of previous actions. Secondly, McClain and Fua were 3rd picks and may in time become more worthy than that, but they were 3rd round picks for a reason; their game tapes were not overly impressive nor were they seen to possess elite potential.
After the jump we will get into some hard data on Fletcher Cox.
Fletcher Cox a 6’4" behemoth who ran his 40 in 4.79 seconds most impressive stat may be his 3 cone drill time of 7.09 seconds. As detailed by PantherRoar here some consider the 3 cone drill to be a very good predictor for DT success (somewhat similar to the 26-27-60 rule for qbs). Perhaps the most striking stat is that Cox has the best 3 cone drill time in the last 2 years for true a DT (Coples time is slightly better).
As stated earlier I am not trying to make Cox into the flavor of the month however, others seem more than willing to do just that. We know Cox has already visited with the Panthers, being one of the first people we know to have met with the team which I feel is somewhat indicative of the interest level. Now as the post combine fervor over Poe has started to subside we are seeing Cox make his way up the boards right about the time that it actually matters.
McShay has Cox at number 6 on his boad. Kiper has Cox at number 17. Mayock has Cox has his #1 rated DT. Gil Brandt has Cox at 20 but goes on to say that he should probably rate him higher and that prior to the combine he had Poe as his 51st rated prospect(currently 17th) which is more than a little fishy. Bucky Brooks also has Cox listedat 17, one above Poe who he writes is one of the riskiest picks in the draft.
Shankdiddy, a regular contributor to the blog and somebody who should get a job as a NFL scout, has written several glowing reviews on Cox like this:
"Even though i think Cox is a different type of DT i would have to say yes i like him more than Dareus. Mainly because he is scheme diverse. Secondly because unlike Dareus Fletcher Cox doesn’t stay blocked. If you look at Dareus on film you see him stuck on blocks more often that Cox.. (i am not being fair because i down load full game tapes from file torrents php sits . … but still) looking at them both as a whole Fletcher Cox is more of a impact player vs run and pass and can do that from any down position along the line."
I know there are viable reasons not to take Cox, namely that the drop in talent between 1st round DTs and 2nd round DTs isn’t as great as say between DEs and I can see the reasoning in that but I just believe that Cox will be a better player than Coples, Dre K, Poe etc.
So now that I have made the best case for any prospect ever just sit back, relax, stop obsessing about the draft, and learn to love the [Fletcher] Cox.