2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jabril Coxby Alex Barbour April 17, 2021 2 comments
Going from the best team in the FCS to the former best team in the FBS, Jabril Cox has a respectable background. The LSU defense took a hit this year, but that is far from aided from losing offensive power: Justin Jefferson, Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Ja’Marr Chase all left the team for varying reasons. Cox was one of the few bright spots. He was commended for his quick adaptation to the new scheme. NFL teams will certainly take notice of his ability to adapt and lift up a locker room. The mentality is there, but is the talent worth anything higher than a late day two selection? Let’s find out.
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Name: Jabril Cox
Class: Redshirt Senior
Weight: 231 lbs
This is not a great start for Cox. He dives with his shoulder at an alarming rate. Funnily enough, his best tackling comes when he tracks down the ball carrier from behind. Cox is by no means a scrub, but he has a lot of room to grow. The former Tiger seems to have inconsistent hand strength, as he sometimes slips off tackles. His sporadic tackling is supported by his oscillating PFF tackling grade that ranges heavily yet totals 64 overall.
Note: 5.0 is average, 9.0 is elite.
Hit Strength (3.0/10)
This is most likely the worst trait about Cox. He is far from an enforcer. Linemen, tight ends, and running backs do not seem afraid to make contact whatsoever. It is obvious that Cox should not be a middle linebacker at the next level. At least he tries to punch out the football and runs at full speed, but that is far from sufficient. Even wide receivers might have their way against Cox. That is a red flag.
Run Defense (4.0/10)
Cox is pretty poor in run defense. His tackling and hit power have already been torn down, so they need no introduction. The biggest issue is that Cox gets absorbed mentally and physically by blockers too often. To put it simply, he focuses on defeating the block and forgets about the rest of the play that is developing. This happens primarily when a blocker is moving to directly block him.
Outside zone-blocking plays are the lone bright spot because Cox can engage with a blocker that is more focused on being in front rather than plowing over the defender. The former Tiger is also useless on the goal line, as he lowers his head to plug a potential hole, yet the play is not even going to his spot. This severely limits Cox’s role in a modern defense.
This category really depends on if Cox is patient or impatient. When he remains focused and patient, he will be able to track anyone down with expert precision. Once Cox gets antsy and impatient, he overpursues and opens up major holes for ball carriers to go through. This should be easy to coach out as the game slows down. Cox is far from a lost cause here.
Cox is the commander of the defense. In the run game, he is not great, IQ-wise. In the passing game, however, his IQ is solid. There was a play where Cox got sucked into his coverage assignment and missed Najee Harris running right by him. Hopefully, not being aware will not become commonplace for him, but it does not look like that will be the case. Screen recognition is second to none, which is in high demand in the modern NFL. The tools are there, but there are holes.
Finally, Cox scores highly. Everyone knows he can cover, but he can cover almost anyone that is not a wide receiver. Cox’s only weakness is hard-cutting routes. Everything else is easy. The LSU product has excellent speed and route recognition. This is the reason Cox will be drafted as well as the role he plays. Ultimately, he is best in zone coverage: it will save him from being in skin-tight coverage against the sharp-cutting routes.
Straight Line Speed (8.0/10)
Although he did not test at his pro day, the tape speaks for itself. No one blew past Cox whatsoever. In fact, he easily caught up to the likes of Kellen Mond, who runs a 4.59-second 40-yard dash. Estimates should be around the low 4.5s if not high 4.4s. That is spectacular, especially when paired with the strong foundation that Cox has. His sideline-to-sideline speed was also demonstrated when he tracked down Harris on a (potential) breakaway run from the opposite side of the field. Jahleel Billingsley, who looks like he can run in the high 4.4s, had no separation downfield. Simply put, getting burnt isn’t in Cox’s vocabulary.
Short Area Burst (5.75/10)
Weirdly enough, as good as Cox’s speed is, his burst is far from phenomenal. His movement is definitely fluid, but he has a hard time with sharp changes in direction. The movements seem very laggy, which proved to be his main weakness in coverage. This may limit him in man coverage, but this could also potentially get coached out of Cox’s system as he learns to improve his mechanics.
Positional Versatility (7.0/10)
Cox literally lined up everywhere: linebacker, edge, slot corner, and even boundary corner. Unfortunately, his weakness in run defense and pass-rushing eliminate his ability to be an inside linebacker. Will linebacker might be his only option as a true linebacker. He could definitely play a box safety or slot corner similar to Elijah Molden, but his change of direction speed might limit the latter. Ultimately, Cox should be used as an option to seal an edge or cover a linebacker, or simply cover a zone.
Competitive Toughness (5.0/5)
As stated before Cox gives his all. He ran across the whole field to make a play on a run play that seemed to be stopped. If it weren’t for Cox not giving up, the play could have broken away for a touchdown. There is a reason everyone loves this prospect.
Cox has multiple injuries on his record. They range from a serious shoulder issue at North Dakota State to an arm injury versus Alabama to a hamstring injury that held him back from testing at his pro day. Hopefully, these do not hinder Cox’s career.
Cox is definitely worth a day two pick: that is certain. If a team needs a Will linebacker, he may be even worth a late second-round pick; however, the lack of run defense capabilities combines with a mediocre change-of-direction speed to put Cox in a tough spot. The ceiling is Lavonte David, so do not think that the LSU product cannot blossom into a star. The question lies in the fact that there are some crucial factors that either need to be fixed or covered by his other teammates. Hopefully, Cox can develop further and flourish into an amazing player. At his age, however, that might not be that likely. Time shall tell.
Final Grade (62.5/100): Third Round
Player Comp: Jordan Hicks