One of the things that caught the eye in the 2021 Draft for the Cowboys was the selection of two linebackers. Of course, there is first-round pick Micah Parsons, who has paid off in organized activities and workouts. But on the other hand there is the prospect of Louisiana State University Jabril Cox. Which the Cowboys took in the fourth round with pick number 115.
Now, one thing in particular the Cowboys have is a very good eye on linebackers in the middle rounds. A lot has happened in recent years, when Dallas drafted Anthony Hitchens in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft. While he was only in the organization for his four rookie years, there is no denying his aggressiveness, effort, and game defense for rival land. Eventually, it would end with the Chiefs winning Super Bowl LIV.
Likewise, with Damien Wilson the same thing would happen in the fourth round of the 2015 Draft. He would also end up in Kansas City winning the Super Bowl. Currently, the linebacker signed with the Jaguars in 2021 and remains a stable element within the league.
With this pair of examples, it is implied that the organization is looking for something similar with Jabril Cox. A player with a skill set that few could boast of from prospects in the NFL. In fact, the rookie was supposed to be much higher among the draft picks. By going so low, the Cowboys took advantage of the situation and kept the pick.
Taking a closer look at his skills, one of his strongest points is his ability to cover his opponents. Cox could easily cover inside receivers or tight ends without a hitch. He already showed it in college and could fill in for Jaylon Smith. Who looked awful last year playing weak-side linebacker under former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Perhaps with Dan Quinn, Smith has another role, but still the fight for the starting positions at the position is quite close.
Looking at Cox’s numbers in both North Dakota and LSU, his coverage results are impressive. According to Pro Football Focus, the linebacker in 1,114 snaps in total allowed just two touchdowns and eight interceptions. These are not numbers to be taken lightly. Undoubtedly the rival offenses were quite complicated with the participation of Jabril in the field.
Jabril Cox career in coverage
(NDSU + LSU):
❌ 1,114 snaps
❌ 2 TDs allowed
❌ 8 INTs
— PFF (@PFF) May 1, 2021
Also, this is not the only thing it has to offer. We are talking about an element that can cover one-on-one or open field. Perhaps the only thing that works against him is that he improves his technique in the defense of the rival ground game. But this is not something that cannot be fixed in training camp in Oxnard and preseason games.
Despite these advantages, Cox has been seen on several college tapes having trouble with blockers. However, being in the right place waiting for the rival runner and where he manages to take the first step and get ahead in the play, the opponents can be sure that they will not advance much.
Overall, Jabril could easily be the weak-side linebacker or “Will” for the Cowboys with his hedging abilities. In addition, the fact that Jabril could go to the field in third and long, depending on the rival, cannot be overlooked. If it is a desperate action where the enemy quarterback is forced to throw for a large number of yards, Jabril he may be there to block the pass, or even intercept it.
Cowboys LB Jabril Cox with an interception in team drills during Saturday’s rookie minicamp practice.
– Jon Machota (jonmachota) May 15, 2021
Of course, this will all be up to Dan Quinn and his coaching staff. It still cannot be taken for granted that Cox will be an undisputed starter, ahead of Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal. But it could well be a backup element that appears at specific times when it is needed in a meeting.
Likewise, it would not be surprising that despite the titles, the five star players in the position remain in constant rotation depending on the situation in which the game finds itself.
It is very clear that Jabril Cox is a diamond to be polished, but the skills are there. It certainly may be a welcome surprise on the Cowboys defense in 2021. But for that, it will be necessary to see the results of training camp in July. The good news is that there is a choice to get positive results heading into the start against Tampa Bay on September 9.