With under a week until the NFL Draft, you have to expect that teams are flooding the media with misinformation, starting rumors, and playing smoke and mirrors game to gain a competitive advantage or simply to stir the pot. Because it's virtually impossible to discern the legitimate from the fabricated, addressing every one of these pieces of information is foolhardy, but there is one thing out there right now that is at least worth considering, because on the surface it actually makes some sense, whether it's remotely true or not.
KJR's Dave 'Softy" Mahler tweeted a piece of information that a source had shared with him on Saturday, writing, "The rumor we heard from Jacksonville about Seattle moving up may not be a rumor. Heard from a source today that the Seahawks may try and move up. To get Fletcher Cox."
Previously, the scuttlebutt had it that the Seahawks might consider trading up to #7, ostensibly to grab QB Ryan Tannehill, which naturally makes us all groan in disgust, mostly. Trading up to grab a player that shouldn't probably be drafted in the first round anyway is a pretty gross thought, but trading up to grab a possibly elite player like Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox is a completely different story, and actually makes some sense for the Seahawks, despite mere six picks they currently own this year.
Now, I'm not attempting to validate or dispute this rumor - though from memory Softy's sources have been pretty accurate, and he did tease, in a conversation with Davis, that "If I told you who I heard it from you'd buy it even more" -, but with only a few days remaining until it all goes down, I think it's certainly worth entertaining this scenario. It's similar to the approach I took with the Mark Barron-Seahawks rumor, simply stating that it's actually a pretty intriguing thought.
I wouldn't be the first to pair Fletcher Cox to the Seahawks, even with the signing of Jason Jones, though currently while picking at 12 it seems very unlikely he'll be there if the Seahawks don't move up.
What you get with Fletcher Cox is certainly intriguing. At 6'4, 298 - Cox ran a 4.78 40, a 7.07 3-cone drill, has 34.5" arms and a 80+" wingspan. Also, importantly - Cox had a 1.63 10-yard split, a number that scouts and teams really like to look at when it comes to pass rushers, and a number that is very, very good for a player his size (compare to Nick Perry's 1.57 10-yard split). Cox played at both defensive end and defensive tackle in 2011, registering five sacks and 57 tackles (14.5 for a loss). He would be an impact player for the Seahawks from day one, harassing quarterbacks, collapsing the pocket, stopping the run, and moving around in the Seahawks hybrid scheme. He also blocked five kicks in his career at Mississippi State.
As Armando Selguero of the Miami Herald noted, "Fletcher Cox is a three-down player. He's country strong, bench-pressing 225 pounds 40 times at the NFL Combine. And he's only 21 years old."
He can play the 3-tech defensive tackle as a penetrating attacker to collapse the pocket and get after the quarterback. He's long enough and quick enough at 6'4 with the 80" wingspan to play outside in different looks to rush the passer from there. He can take over for Red Bryant at the 5-tech on first downs or in obvious passing situations and rush the passer from there or drop back into short zone. He's not going to hurt the Seahawks' run defense a whole lot either, especially if he adds 10-15 pounds to his frame, as many analysts say he's capable of.
Imagine a defensive line where you can rotate, and shift, according to down and distance, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Alan Branch, Chris Clemons, Jason Jones, Clinton McDonald, even Dexter Davis, and the wildcard, Fletcher Cox, - changing fronts with different assignments, many times without even making substitutions. Try gameplanning for that. We've talked ad nauseam about how the Seahawks need to upgrade their pass rush, and when Derek Stephens describes Cox as a potential double-digit sack guy from the 3-tech, it certainly makes you perk up a bit.
Perhaps an interior slasher and dasher with the ability to play outside as well will be more effective or more valuable than any of the defensive end or outside linebacker options we've been focused on? Each player - Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram, and Courtney Upshaw, has big question marks attached to their names despite their obvious talents and ability. Ingram's short arms, Upshaw's lack of explosiveness, and Coples' work ethic, for instance.
Regardless, being able to grab the best defensive lineman in the draft, according to many, by giving up, say, a 2nd round pick to move up five spots, may just be worth it. It's why I don't completely scoff at this notion and why I don't think it's actually very wild. With added ability to rush the passer from Fletcher and Jason Jones, the Seahawks could go into day two and three with a combination of K.J. Wright, Leroy Hill, Malcolm Smith, Matt McCoy, & Barrett Ruud at linebacker and then look to bolster that group by looking at players in the mid-rounds like Jerry Franklin, Ryan Davis, Claude Davis, Danny Trevathan, Cordorro Law, Korey Toomer or any of the other speedy middle and outside linebackers in this year' class. They also have guys like Heath Farwell, Mike Morgan, Jameson Konz, Adrian Moten, Tressor Baptiste, and even Alan Bradford waiting in the wings and I wouldn't rule out the idea that one of these players could surprise.
Anyway, check out some scouting after the jump.
Former NFL personnel exec Tony Softli published his scouting report on the top five defensive linemen in the NFL Draft this year, and listed Cox #1. He said:
Cox is the most versatile defensive lineman in the 2012 draft class, thanks to his ability to align at all front positions. Excellent athletic skill set, size and combination of quickness and speed. Very good strength and explosion with strong UOH (use of hands). Is competitive and aggressive with terrific toughness, boasting linebacker-like movement skills to hunt, seek and destroy.
Cox's motor runs hot, and his disruptiveness as a DT (defensive tackle) is a credit to his initial quickness out of stance with up-the-field explosion; runs around blockers with quickness or targets shoulder and charges up field as an interior pass rusher. Good FBI (football instincts) to locate ball carrier, and is adept at laterally chasing and pursuit to flatten down LOS (line of scrimmage) with second effort to leave feet. Recognizes screens with chase down production.
Good double arm bar stack at POA (point of attack); strong hands to grab, steer and tilt blockers. Slow to disengage at times as interior lineman. Can snap hips with explosion and plays with very good leverage. Inconsistent to split and anchor consistently vs. double team; will need further weight room strength development (in lower body) that will transfer to on-field functional strength. Plays with very good read reaction quickness, COD (change of direction) to stick foot in ground with burst to ball. DE (defensive end) with raw skills off edge; playing on pure athletic ability, which is excellent.
Will need more consistent hand combat and further development. Can turn speed into power, flip hips with burst on up field shoulder, with very good body balance and control. An explosive tackler with collision and wrap, diving effort production. Watched eight games on this player not because I needed to, but because I enjoyed it so much. The sky is the limit for this early out junior. A great toy to have on the defensive line to align at 3-4 DE, 4-3 DE or DT.