The NFLPA Bowl game helped Rakim Cox catch the eye of some scouts. His pro-day drew the scouts to the Main Line, where he attempted to prove his worth in workouts. At least fifteen teams were in attendance to see Villanova's stud defensive end.
Measuring in at 6'4" and 266 pounds, the Wildcat registered a 32.5" vertical, 20 reps on the bench press, and a 4.93 on the 40-yard dash. NFLDraftScout.com ranked him 31st out of 163 defensive ends, and 411 out of 2254 draftable players and if the teams were to pick in order fo that site's rankings, Cox might be in trouble, but need, fit and other intangibles are factors as well.
One of those intangibles was a standout career at Villanova, and despite his slow 40-times, he has highlight reels full of evidence that he can get it done.
How does he grade out on the field?
Pass rush: What Cox lacks in the 40-yard dash is somewhat compensated for by his first step. He moves quickly and strongly toward the passer. He recorded a career-high 9 sacks as a senior and has continued to work on his pass-rushing moves since arriving at Villanova as a relatively green freshman.
Pursuit/quickness: He finished the season with 30 total tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and had one pass breakup and one forced fumble. While his bread-and-butter wasn't necessarily pursuing his man in the open field, Cox was mobile enough to get where he needed to be, and to make life difficult for the offensive backfield. Where he may struggle in the NFL is with teams that may look for him to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He didn't play much standing up at Villanova and his ability to drop into coverage is unproven -- without a big 40-time, Cox is a player who seems to make the most sense in the trenches.
Run defense: As a fit at 4-3 defensive end, Cox has great potential to be a run-stopper at any level. He shined in a 4-3 look for the Wildcats last fall, and was a big part of a defense that was able to hold Towson's superstar running back Terrance West to just 61 yards rushing -- no small feat for any team this season as West set the FCS single-season rushing record.
Strength/tackling: What Cox lacks in speed, he makes up in strength. He was the anchor of the defensive line at Villanova and has been great at setting the edge against the run. His tackling technique has been effective as well, taking down 30 offensive players last season.
Technique: Villanova has helped Cox develop his technique and he was far more refined as a senior than he was when he first arrived on campus. That said, his technique will continue to improve in the professional ranks. His inside move started to show up last Fall, but can still be improved.
Final Word: As a star for the Wildcats the last two seasons, Cox showed scouts that he possessed NFL potential. He grades out anywhere from a 6th-round pick to undrafted at this point, depending on who you might ask. Even as an undrafted rookie, however, Villanova fans should expect to see their former captain strapping on a helmet for at least one professional team in camp this summer.