Micah Parsons is such an amazing player. Even some of his biggest supporters could not have predicted he would have put together such an incredible rookie season. Regardless of what side of the Parsons’ fence you were on when he was selected, it’s now safe to say that the Dallas Cowboys got themselves an absolute gem with the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
But Parsons wasn’t the only linebacker taken last year that had fans talking. The selection of LSU linebacker Jabril Cox as late as 115th overall had people feeling like the team landed themselves a steal. Cox was one of the more athletic linebackers in his draft class and was projected to go somewhere in the second round, but for some reason, teams kept passing up on him. He was finally picked on Day 3 as the 12th linebacker selected in the draft.
The 12th overall player paired with the 12th linebacker selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox aren't your typical NFL linebackers. pic.twitter.com/3dzj79vgE5— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) July 25, 2022
It’s easy to forget about Cox. Last year, he was primarily used on special teams and only played in nine total defensive snaps. He suffered a season-ending injury in Week 8 after tearing his ACL against the Minnesota Vikings. The team was bringing him up slowly, but his progress came to an abrupt halt.
This season presents new opportunities for the Cowboys' young linebacker. There are parts of his game that make us excited and there are parts that make us a little apprehensive. Cox is a great athlete. His length helped him become one of the top cover linebackers in college as those long strides can make up a lot of ground in a hurry and those long arms can get after the football. His eight pass breakups and three interceptions during his final year in college put those coverage skills on full display.
Cox is very savvy in understanding his coverage responsibilities. He sees routes develop early and has great closing ability once he sniffs it out. He’s a mature player and is very dialed in to what he’s supposed to do. His raw ability combined with high character offers some appealing upside as to what he can develop into.
Falling as far as he did likely had to do with his ability as a run-stopper. Cox is more of a finesse player versus a physical attacker and he doesn’t always take the right angles in pursuit. While he has good upper body strength and a long wingspan to keep blockers from getting into his chest, he hasn’t demonstrated the ability to fight through opponents once engaged. His length helps him wrangle up ball carriers, but he still needs to improve his tackling fundamentals.
Cox enters the new year healthy as he’s expected to be a full go at camp this week. Having a year of study under his belt will help him as he begins his return. The Cowboys already have Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch as their core linebackers, but look for Cox to be getting more and more reps as the year goes on. If he’s able to learn under Dan Quinn and clean up some of his fundamentals, then the Cowboys could find themselves with a very athletic defensive contributor roaming around in space.
Do you have an under-the-radar Cowboys player who you believe will turn heads in training camp? Plant your flag and let us know who your guy is in the comments before he balls out and everyone jumps on the train.