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Perrish Cox (Oklahoma State)
Height: 5'11" Weight: 189 40 Time: 4.44
Cox is a gamble, no matter how you look at it. In every draft, there are a handful of young players whose potential are enough to cast a shadow on their imperfections. Perrish Cox is one of these players.
Cox was suspended for the 2010 Cotton Bowl so it was hard to get a final snapshot of his ball skills, but he showed up enough at the Senior Bowl to be marginally considered in April. If he plans on eclipsing the fourth or fifth round, though, Cox will need to produce much more at the combine next week.
That being said, the young cornerback has a lot to offer any ball club. He has a smooth backpedal off the line and shows good hip transition skills, though he opens up his hips to the route too early too often.
He needs to learn to use his hands more effectively at the line, failing at times to jam the receiver or at least throw him off his timing. As a run supporter, though, he sets the edge consistently and rarely shies away from putting his shoulder into the runner.
In open space, Cox doesn't have elite speed, especially if he's fooled by a double move or a quick in-route in man coverage, but he has a quick burst of acceleration that he uses to close in on the ball quickly.
If he gets anywhere near the ball, consider it at least knocked away. He has a knack for dropping catchable balls but his long arms are perfect for reaching in and breaking up pivotal catches. In midair, Cox fights for it, displaying a nasty desire to prevent the big play, a trait that can easily be translated to ill play at the next level.
In zone coverage, he has good reading ability, watching the quarterback's eyes and keeping a blind eye on the cushion behind him. He has a good burst of speed to quickly tackle the underneath route and prevent the big play. As a tackler, Cox isn't special, but he gets the job done and doesn't shy away from the big hit.
Where Cox truly sets himself apart from the rest is in his return game. He began his career in Stillwater by returning the season opener kickoff for a touchdown in 2006. Since then, he's amassed six career touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns. He is magic in open field with a ball in his hand and, if he's rested, can make 11 guys miss consistently.
There are still some character issues keeping Cox off the short list but his athletic abilities are still very raw and he could eventually become a very good corner in the NFL. With proper coaching, he could be effective immediately in a "read and react" nickel package.
Look for a team like Carolina with minor needs in their defensive backfield and are willing to gamble on a third or fourth round pick to pick up Cox. With second string corner Richard Marshall possibly leaving through free agency, it's possible the Panthers will seek out new blood for their corner corps.