From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#19 Jabril Cox / LB LSU – 6027 233
- Good athlete with speed and length
- Able to cover outside, in the slot or in the middle of the field in Man or Zone
- Runs effortlessly with receivers and can cover on all three levels
- Good ball skills with 9 career interceptions and 23 pass break ups.
- Gets downhill quickly in space
- Good timing and acceleration when blitzing
- Too relaxed in Zone coverage when his area is empty
- Mental processing versus the run needs a lot of work
- Doesn’t consistently fill gaps and overruns plays to the outside
- Not a physical player prefers to duck around blocks and doesn’t disengage well
- Pursuit is adequate on plays not in his area
- Very low, ankle tackling attempts allowing runners to slip out
- Career with North Dakota State – 258 tackles, 158 solo, 32 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, 6 INT, 18 Passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries
- 2020 (LSU) – 58 tackles, 37 solo, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 3 INT, 1 TD, 5 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery
- 2018, 2019 FCS All-American
- 3 Time FCS National Champion
- 45 games/38 starts and NDSU
- Graduated from NDSU (2019) with degree in psychology
- In high school he was a dual threat QB that also played some WR, LB, S and DB; 4 year starter on basketball team
Cox had a highly decorated career and South Dakota State and decided to try his luck at LSU. He is a lean linebacker with good athleticism and length.
Against the pass is where Cox shines. He will line up and cover from anywhere on the field. He will split out wide with tight ends and running backs play in the slot over receivers and from the second level of the defense in the middle of the field.
In Zone coverage, he gets solid depth and shows fluid movement to read the quarterbacks eyes. He displays good awareness of receivers in his area and has a good understanding of passing off and picking up within his zone. He has solid change of direction and can get downhill quickly to make plays to close on the ball or receivers.
In Man coverage, in the middle of the field he played a lot of trail Man running underneath the receiver whether it was tight end or wide receiver and uses his hands well on physical receivers within the route or in choke coverage over the tight end. On running backs he plays with patience on routes from the backfield and good acceleration to stay with backs out of their breaks. He has loose hips and good acceleration while playing Man coverage over the slot and shows good closing speed on crossing routes using his length to disrupt catches. He doesn’t look stressed running with just about anyone and easily stayed with backs and ends while outside or on deep routes. He was used to blitz from the middle and from the slot and showed good timing and acceleration through empty gaps.
Vs Mississippi State, Cox (19) is the linebacker on the right side of the screen. He will pick up the route from the slot, flips his hips and speeds under the route to get the pick 6.
Vs Missouri, he reads the screen well and gets downhill quickly and makes the stop. This was the most physical hit I saw from him.
At Florida, he is Man coverage at the top of the screen. The ball gets knocked down at the line of scrimmage but he is all over the tight end.
Against the run, he shows good speed and acceleration when coming downhill in space. He showed improvement flowing to the ball as the season went on. He does a nice job on the edge to use his length to force runs back inside.
At Florida, he will go in motion and end up on the edge. He’ll use his length to hole the edge and make the tackle
Vs Ole Miss, he is in the apex between the end of the line and the slot receiver and when the runner comes his way he gets downhill quickly and trips up the runner for a loss.
When there is no one his area in Zone coverage he will get flatfooted and limit his movement. He seems too casual at times on routes in the middle of the field relying on his athleticism to catch up if he needs to. He does not fight through blocks when blitzing when there isn’t a clean lane. His pursuit is adequate on plays that aren’t near him.
He needs a lot of work against the run. He doesn’t process running plays well and losses sight of the ball through the mesh point. He will over pursue on outside runs allowing cutback lanes and doesn’t get into the correct gaps quickly. He tries to go around blocks rather than take them on and doesn’t disengage from blocks well. When he does fill gaps he is too high and gets redirected easily. He has marginal physicality and tackles very low without wrapping well.
Vs Mississippi State, the play will develop to come right at him but instead of filling in the gap, his eyes are on the quarterback heading to the right and it leaves a big hole for the runner.
Vs Alabama, he will read this screen well and uses his speed to beat the blocks to the outside but tackles low and can’t finish the play.
Overall, Cox needs a lot of work to be an every down linebacker but he has the athleticism, length and speed to work with. Where he does fit is as the dimebacker or a third safety in big nickel. Someone who excels in Man coverage, can cover ground in Zone in the middle of the field, can be used to blitz and spy on the quarterback. The Steelers have tried the past couple years to shoehorn someone into that role and Cox could fill that spot initially while working on improving his run game reads.
Projection: Early Day 3
Games Watched: 2020 – Vs Mississippi State, At Missouri, Vs Alabama, At Florida, Vs Mississippi