Best cover linebacker in this draft is perfect for modern defense
Jabril Cox didn’t quite get to have the competitive experience he wanted when he transferred to LSU. The defense wasn’t even really installed and the entire team/program were a mess. Individually, he was one of its few bright spots and got to gain experience playing at a very high level of competition. It didn’t help his stock the way he’d hoped, but Cox is still one of the best linebacker options in this class.
Jabril Cox’s tape is defined by man coverage ability and the breadth of responsibility he was given in that department. He wasn’t just taking people to the flat, playing dig/shallow, or dropping into dig windows, all the typical linebacker cover stuff. When LSU played a team with anything resembling a threatening tight end, Jabril Cox was on him. No game exemplified that more than Texas A&M, when he was asked to shadow potential 2022 first rounder Jalen Wydermeyer, the SEC’s second best tight end. Cox locked him down, covering him all over the field on all manner of routes.
Here he is step for step with Wydermeyer on a decently run dig, even staying with him out of structure after the play breaks down and knocking the ball away. You see Wydermeyer’s break not generate any separation as Cox is able to change direction in kind.
Here he is carrying the seam step for step.
Here he is pressing up on him like a corner
And here he is just straight up playing corner.
(Bonus points to Derek Stingley playing dig-shallow like a linebacker).
The fantastic @MathBomb on Twitter formulates all of a player’s physical and athletic scores into a composite known as relative athletic score.
Jabril Cox is a LB prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.73 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 59 out of 2153 LB from 1987 to 2021.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 26, 2021
Jabril Cox scored a really solid 9.73/10. He’s tall (6’3’) and athletic. He has the mass (233 lbs) to be able to contend with monstrous NFL tight ends and the requisite athleticism/man coverage ability. His speed scores (40-yard dash, 20-yard split, 10-yard split) were all fantastic and his broad jump was terrific. He may need to put on about 10 pounds but honestly I like linebackers with his profile for the modern NFL. He’s got the physical ability to be great.
Jabril Cox is the exact kind of player that NFL DCs should be looking for to deal with the giant, athletic tight ends that are wreaking havoc on their defenses. He wasn’t great against the run, but it’s hard to tell if that’s a result of LSU’s assignment issues more generally (because he wasn’t alone) or an issue with his game. Either way, I don’t really care that much. Stopping offenses in the NFL is about stopping the pass. Running the ball is simply too generally inefficient in the NFL for Cox’s potential weakness there to matter that much to me. He can cover and he can match up with stud tight ends. He’s what the modern NFL should be looking for. I see him possibly going late first or early-mid second, and having an extremely effective career.