Cox Could Be Another McPhee

First-round Mississippi State DL Fletcher Cox learned from Ravens DE Pernell McPhee.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Thursday, March 8th, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

Fletcher Cox was a freshman at Mississippi State when a player named Pernell McPhee transferred to the school.

It didn’t take the future Ravens defensive end long to assume a leadership position considering his relentless play, passion and likeable personality.

For the next two years, Cox took mental notes.

Now Cox is considered a first-round draft prospect. And he could be somebody the Ravens are interested in pairing with McPhee in their front seven, particularly if they don’t re-sign unrestricted free agent defensive end Cory Redding.

“I learned a lot from Pernell,” Cox said at the combine. “He had that energy and I kind of fed off him. Once he left, I felt it was time for people to feed off me.”

Cox, who will have his pro day today on the Mississippi State campus, broke out in his junior year, notching 56 tackles, including 14.5 for loss and five sacks.

He also showed his versatility. He’s listed as a defensive tackle, but can also be a defensive end in a 3-4 system – the same role Redding played. That is a valuable commodity in Baltimore’s complex defense.

Asked what he wants to play in the NFL, Cox said, “I just go out and do what the coaches ask me to do.” It’s a personality much like that of McPhee, who calls nearly everybody he meets “sir” or “ma’am.”

Their style of play is similar too. The Ravens took McPhee in the fifth round because they viewed him as a junkyard dog, a scrappy player who never quit on a play and simply fought to get to the quarterback. That’s what he did as a rookie, notching six sacks along the way.

Cox is also unyielding on tape. He often had runners go away from his side of the field in college, but still often tracked them down.

“That’s one thing we always stress at Mississippi State is always going as hard as you can. Don’t stop until the whistle blows,” Cox said. “I just love playing the game. Getting to do what you enjoy every day, going out to practice and having fun.”

The 6-foot-4, 298 pounder is also a top-flight athlete. He ran the second leg, and sometimes the anchor, for his 4×100 high-school sprint team despite far outweighing his fellow runners.  He said there were a lot of shocked people when they saw him take the baton.

Cox ran an impressive 4.79 40-yard dash at the combine. His 30 bench-press reps and 26-inch vertical jump weren’t as notable.

“My thing is that I have good character and that I’m a good guy not only on the field, but off the field,” Cox said.

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