2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Florida EDGE Brenton Cox Jr.

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling Florida EDGE Brenton Cox, Jr.

#1 Brenton Cox, Jr., EDGE, Florida (RJR) – 6037, 250LBS

Shrine Bowl / Combine


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Brenton Cox, Jr. 6’3 250lbs 9 1/4 33 1/8 80 6/8 
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone  
4.82 1.65 4.57 7.57  
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press    
9’7″ 33.0 24    

The Good

Quick, violent and active hands
Plays with great raw strength
Has prototypical size and length for the position
Has a solid, consistent burst off the snap
Primarily utilizes clubs, swims and bull rushes in his pass rush
Speed-to-power rusher
Tracks the ball well as a run defender, solid tackler
Maintains gap integrity well and seals the edge with solid technique

The Bad

Plays with obvious hip tightness
Doesn’t take advantage of his strong initial punch by quickly transitioning to his next move
Allows pass blockers into his frame too often, allowing them to anchor as he hand fights
Largely ineffective in coverage
While he plays with great aggression, his motor as a chase player is questionable
Just two sacks in 2022 before his dismissal from Florida following Georgia game.
Dismissed from Georgia in 2019 and Florida in 2022


Birthday: January 30, 2000 (23 years old)
5-star prospect out of high school in Georgia
Spent one year at Georgia in 2018 before being kicked off the team (arrested for marijuana possession in 2019)
Was also kicked off the team at Florida in 2022 after throwing a punch at a Georgia player
Details on dismissals are fuzzy, though both are described as “cumulative effect” while Cox says his competitive nature gets “misconstrued”
Career Stats: 138 tackles, 34 for loss, with 14.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections and a fumble forced and recovered.

Tape Breakdown

There’s a lot to like about Brenton Cox Jr, and a lot that leaves you scratching your head as you watch his tape. His physique is marvelous for the position, but his athleticism and overall body of production don’t add up. Add in some poor testing numbers, and that math starts to make a bit more sense.

Still, Brenton Cox is a power-style pass rusher that has a small, but well-trained, arsenal of moves and impressively violent hands to boot. He plays with great intensity and often flashes on tape as one of the better performers on the Gators defense during his time in the swamp.

Getting into his pass rush film first, you’ll see in each clip that while he doesn’t get home for the sack, Cox comes with a solid burst, a strong initial punch and a follow-up move to get free.

In this first clip against Utah, Cox cracks the pocket after getting under the pads of the left tackle and shedding him with a swim move. Unfortunately for Cox, edge contain is lost on the backside and the QB makes a solid play to pick up the first. The outcome of the play notwithstanding, Cox shows off some of the tools that make him an interesting prospect. Do note too, however, his backside pursuit tapers off rather quickly.

On this next play against Utah, Cox gets another solid start off the line, sets up the tackle to open his hips outside before getting under his armpit and swimming back inside. The QB gets rid of the ball just in time, but it’s a solid example of what Cox can do when he has the advantage.

On to Tennessee, Cox is taking on better tackles in this game and it shows. The transitions of his moves are a tick slower and he gets anchored a lot in this game. In this first of two clips against Darnell Wright, Cox clubs away the tackle’s hands before swimming to the outside. Unfortunately for Cox, the QB steps up into a wide-open lane to scramble for a first down. Even more unfortunate is that Cox shows that hip tightness as he’s unable to drop his frame and bend back upfield to get to the passer. It’s a tight angle, sure, but as we’ll see later, this is a prevalent problem in his game. It’s worth noting as well that in the three games I watched, Cox never once attempt a bend around the perimeter of the pocket as a pass rush move.

Rep number two against Wright, while it’s nice to see the functional strength to put Wright’s facemask in the dirt on this pull move, it happens so late in the rush after Wright stonewalls Cox’s bull rush. The setup and follow-through in Cox’s pass rush plan is so often the difference in him creating pressure or being a hair too late to have any impact whatsoever.

Where Cox is strongest is in the running game. He’s able to utilize his strength and length well to come free and make plays around the line of scrimmage. This first clip against Utah is the most impressive play I saw from Cox on tape. He properly wrong arms the pulling tight end with enough power to remain free to get his hands on the ball carrier and bring him down for a loss as help arrives.

A somewhat similar situation against Georgia, with different results. Cox comes unblocked here, he gets a bit too deep in his pursuit but is unable to cleanly drop and flip his hips to adjust to the ball carrier whizzing by him. He does get in on the play for a small gain, but the hip tightness is there.

His eyes are strong against the run. He doesn’t have much problem tracking where the ball is headed, and he consistently uses proper technique on his way to the ball. See here against Georgia as he’s keeping potential blockers at bay, his eyes are glued to the mesh point. As he notices he’s unblocked, he promptly clogs the gap and wraps up with a fellow Gator for a violent end to the play.

Finally, although not often asked to drop, Cox usually didn’t look too uncomfortable dropping into a zone. However, in the one play he was challenged, Stetson Bennett, who doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world, zipped a ball right past Cox in the flat, who arguably left too much space between himself and the target receiver.


Cox has usable tools. I really like his strength profile and his ability in the run game. Still, his pass rushing in 2022 left a lot to be desired after posting 8 sacks in 2021. He has to wisen up his pass rush plan to be more effective at the next level. That’s if he can get past the hip tightness to effectively get to the quarterback at a quality angle.

His on-the-field grade for me is closer to an early Day 3. However, when taking his off-the-field situations into account, Cox drops into a dangerous area later into Day 3. It’s not unlikely that many teams don’t even have him on their board. While not much is known publicly about what led to his dismissals from both Georgia and Florida, Cox was at least allowed to have his Pro Day with the Gators. That has to count for something.

As for the Steelers, it would be more likely for him to make sense if the team had a proper third option at edge backer. Because the team is likely in a position to use earlier capital, Cox may not be in the cards for Pittsburgh in the waning stages. He’s a fit in many regards, character concerns notwithstanding, and would have to be a fixture on special teams to contribute in any way. The possibility of Cox wearing black and gold this fall is more likely as a priority free agent.

Projection: Late Day 3

Depot Draft Grade: 6.4 – 6th/7th Round (End of Roster/ Practice Squad)

Games Watched: Utah ‘22, Tennessee ‘22, Georgia ‘22

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