One of the sneaky, but really not-so-sneaky, needs of the Dallas Cowboys is linebacker. They are still deciding on whether to pick up the fifth-year option of Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee recently retired, and Joe Thomas left in free agency. Plus, Jaylon Smith’s play has had real inconsistencies in quality. It all adds up to a position that could use an infusion of talent. If the Cowboys want someone who they think could be an impact player at the position, then using a Day 2 resource could be the way to go. We have one in mind.
Name: Jabril Cox
School: LSU, North Dakota State
Class: RS Senior
In today’s NFL, Jabril Cox’s game is perfect for linebacker needy teams. Cox is an exceptional cover linebacker with the ability to lineup in man coverage against tight ends and running backs, and dominate his matchup. Cox shows impressive instincts and athleticism in zone coverage, and does a nice job of reading quarterbacks body language to make plays in zone. Sideline-to-sideline speed shows up against the run, and his spatial awareness was impressive at LSU, like his ability to breakdown and mirror shiftier ball carriers in space. Consistent tackler who maintains good balance through attempts. Can effect the pocket with downhill blitz. Very savvy player that plays with an extremely hot-motor.
Can continue to improve his ability to disengage from offensive linemen in the second-level. Can engage with blockers too high and get washed out of running plays. Showed snaps of guessing wrong in the running game, leaving some large running lanes for opposing backs. Can stand to play a bit more physical against the run and when in coverage. May need to add some mass to his frame to really grow as a run defender. Older prospect, so there’s questions regarding how much more his game can develop.
Overall, Jabril Cox is a very exciting linebacker prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. The former North Dakota State linebacker was a stud for the Tigers defense in 2020, and the step-up in competition did not phase him one bit. Cox is as tough as they come, and plays with an extremely hot motor. Playing primarily as a cover player for most of his career at North Dakota State, Cox has a lot of developing to do as a pure run defender, but his coverage skills are as good as they come. In a league that has shifted almost completely into the passing game, Cox skillset is much needed as a coverage linebacker who also has the athleticism and consistent tackling skills to make a big impact against the run. If Cox can continue to develop from an instinctive perspective, he has the ability to be one of the steals of the 2021 NFL Draft.
2nd (#44 overall)
I’ll take LSU LB Jabril Cox on day 2 all day over Notre Dame LB JOK in round 1.— Nathan Coleman (@JHawkChalk_) March 7, 2021
✅Nose for the ball:9 Ints & 23 Pass Breakups
✅Best Coverage LB in CFB(+90th percentile coverage grade)
✅ Versatile:900+snaps at slot corner
✅Lives in the backfield:15 Career Sacks/39 TFLs pic.twitter.com/TZxGBClm2S