The son of three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Bryan Cox had an up-and-down career with the Gators. After playing a reserve role as a freshman (eight games, five tackles, two sacks), he won a starting job in 2014 (29 tackles, six for loss, four sacks). Despite having hip surgery after the regular season that year, Cox came back to start 12 games as a junior, setting career highs in tackles (45), tackles for loss (10.5), sacks (3.5) and forced fumbles (two). Injuries limited his effectiveness in 2016, allowing him to only make 19 tackles (2.5 for loss, 0.5 sack) in 11 games. His favorite team to play against was Tennessee, as he had five tackles for loss and three sacks against the Volunteers in 2014, and a career-high nine tackles this fall.
Has experience playing with a hand down and standing up. Will surprise with how quickly he fires out of his stance. Possesses natural upper-body strength to set a strong edge and constrict his gap against the run. Physical-play demeanor will bear more fruit with improved hands. Can cave down offensive tackles who try and wall him off. Heavy tackler who doesn't seem to mind scrapping in tight quarters. Runs feet through his tackles. Not a content pass rusher and is constantly searching for an opening. His spin move has potential. Much more productive season in 2015 when he was fully healthy.
Upright attacker with limited knee bend and some hip stiffness. Sluggish lateral foot quickness and change of direction. Hand work needs to improve. Can be a little slow to punch, allowing defenders into his frame and minimizing his length. Aggressive with hands but needs more efficiency to his work. Doesn't create fear in tackles as rusher off the edge. Lacks cohesive rush plan. Put on skates when trying to corner the edge and can be run way past the arc.
While he has the functional athletic ability to operate as an outside linebacker in Florida's scheme, he is clearly best suited as a base end. Cox's length and power can become more effective combat weapons if he can be coached up on his hand usage. While he lacks the athletic traits and talent to become an effective pass rusher as a defensive end, his first step and rush skills could open a door for him as an interior rusher on third downs.