Dallas Cowboys Draft Prospect: Mississippi State DL Fletcher Cox

By Jeric Griffin

It’s been made pretty clear over the past week the Dallas Cowboys intend to draft a pass-rusher with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones first said his team is looking to add a pass-rusher and later added Dallas likely won’t draft an offensive lineman in the first round. Although taking his word for anything is like riding a bucking bull at a rodeo, Jones signs the paychecks at Valley Ranch, so we’ll trust him for this draft preview.

With so many of the top 10 teams in the draft order needing offensive players, the Cowboys might have a nice selection of pass-rushers from which to choose at No. 14. Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox has been climbing draft boards lately and he’s recently caught the attention of Dallas’ coaching staff.

Cox is very athletic for standing 6’4″ tall and weighing 298 lbs. – he ran a 4.81 in the 40-yard dash, recorded a 26″ vertical and leaped 8’7″ in the broad jump. The best part about Cox’s game is he can play both defensive end and defensive tackle in the 3-4, much like a similar Cowboys draft candidate.

LSU’s Michael Brockers is bigger than Cox at 6’6″ and 322 lbs., but not as quick; he recorded slower times in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill at the NFL Combine. However, Brokers is bigger and stronger than Cox and though he played defensive tackle in college, Brockers would fit the Cowboys’ complex 3-4 scheme nicely as a defensive end due.

ESPN Dallas’ Bryan Broaddus thinks the Cowboys will take Brockers if it comes down to him and Cox, but the former Bulldog “would be a nice piece to put at end and go to work if Brockers is gone.” Rant Sports’ latest mock draft for the Cowboys has Dallas taking Brockers at No. 14, so Broaddus is definitely on to something.

Dallas desperately needs to add a defensive end, regardless of whether the Cowboys take Brockers, Cox or another player with the 14th overall pick. If several of the teams in the top 13 draft picks take pass-rushers and Brockers and Cox are gone, Dallas could take a surefire defensive tackle like Memphis’ Dontari Poe and move Jay Ratliff to defensive end. In short, the Cowboys have options at No. 14.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan called his defensive ends “bullies” before the 2011 season, but then saw the true colors of Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman. Less than a month after receiving a five-year, $19.2 million extension, Spears lost his starting job and was the highest-paid benchwarmer on the team while Coleman didn’t do much better as starter, recording only 36 tackles and a lone sack in what was supposed to be his homecoming year.

Ryan found out the hard way Dallas has not bullies on defense and that’s what needs to be fixed in 2012, starting with the draft. Drafting a player like Brockers or Cox would be a great way to kick off that process.

Follow Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin or on Facebook at Jeric Griffin – Rant Sports

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