Sherrod Gives Cox Advice: It's a "Grown-Man League"

At a shade under 300 pounds, Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox is going to have to prove he can play with the big boys in the NFL.

Last year's first round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers, Mississippi State offensive lineman Derek Sherrod, recently gave some advice to fellow Mississippi State product Fletcher Cox, a defensive lineman who has a chance to be taken in the first round of this year's NFL Draft.

"He just told me it was a grown-man league," said Cox at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Sherrod would know. After finding playing time against Kansas City late in his rookie year, his season was ended when both his tibia and fibula were fractured on a leg whip by the Chiefs' Tamba Hali.

The Packers tackle is now on his road to recovery while Cox's journey to the NFL is just getting started.

And if Cox is going to be drafted into Green Bay's 3-4 defensive scheme, he's definitely going to have to prove he can play with grown men.

Measuring in at 6-4, 298 pounds, it's debatable whether Cox has the girth necessary to be a three-down player in Dom Capers' system, but he does have experience playing the five-technique (lined up over the offensive tackle) , defensive end spot in college.

"I started at three-technique (lined up over the offensive guard) every game," said Cox, "and when coach needed me to move outside and play five-technique, we had some packages where I played five-technique."

Whatever they did at Mississippi State seemed to work. Cox was one of the better defensive tackles in nation, a first-team All-SEC selection and a third-team All-American pick by the Associated Press.

He accumulated 56 tackles in 2011, 14.5 for a loss and five sacks.

What has impressed is his non-stop motor, his ability to get after both quarterbacks and running backs to the point where teams began to ran away from the disruptive defensive lineman.

"I just had to overcome that and just run the ball down," said Cox. "That’s what I had to do towards the end of the season."

The question now becomes, can Cox do the same at the next level? Can he be an impact defensive lineman going against NFL offensive linemen who outweigh him by 20-plus pounds?

Cox thinks his pass rush is one area of his game that could use some refinement, and it's the primary thing he's been working on in his preparations for the Draft in April.

"Since the season’s been over, I’ve been doing a lot of hand drills," said Cox. "Not that my hands are slow, but just developing more pass rush moves was the biggest thing I’ve been working on."

Perhaps the thing that Cox does best is shoot gaps. It's what allows him to wreak havoc in an opponent's backfield. But consider that the Packers frequently ask their defensive linemen to cover two gaps, take offensive linemen head on, read and react to what's happening in front of them.

Cox may or may not not be equipped for that type of defense. But on the other hand, the Packers need pass rush help––desperately. Their 27 sacks last season ranked 27th in the NFL, and their sack efficiency was even worse.

Take Cullen Jenkins for example, the guy whose loss was blamed for the Packers' lack of a pass rush in 2011. At a shade over 300 pounds, Jenkins wasn't an ideal two-gap defensive end. But he got better as he got older, and his real value came as a pass-rushing tackle in the Packers' nickel package.

Maybe Cox can be the same type of player.

He also wants to show he has intangibles that the Packers value, based upon their history of drafting high-character players and guys who eat, sleep and breathe football under general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy.

Cox said he loves to practice and work on getting better, that it's his version of having fun.

"I have good character," said Cox of what he wants to prove to teams in the NFL. "I’m a good guy off the field, a guy that takes coaching."

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Comments (16)

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Ebongreen's picture

March 02, 2012 at 10:51 am

Very interested in his possibilities as a Packer. I have a hard time imagining he's not in a good spot on Thompson's draft board, perhaps with Kendall Reyes close behind, somewhere near pick 28.

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bryce's picture

March 02, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Sherrod would know too...what with all that time spent on the bench, being a healthy scratch on game days...playing on the scout team...of anyone, Sherrod would know that it's a grown mans league.

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PackerAaron's picture

March 02, 2012 at 01:13 pm

Wow. Never mind his coming off the bench in Atlanta, playing out of position well enough to basically help save the game.

But don't let facts get in the way of your mean-spirited snark.

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bryce's picture

March 02, 2012 at 03:58 pm

You're right, I was probably a little over snarky. I was basically mocking that fact that he was fairly ineffective in his rookie year, and he's trying to come of like he's some seasoned vet.

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PackersRS's picture

March 02, 2012 at 03:20 pm

I know, right? Players that don't suit up as rookies never amount to anything. Specially those scout team players. Useless.

I mean, okay, maybe they could become useful backups, but never a quality starter, let alone a MVP winner.

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bryce's picture

March 02, 2012 at 03:59 pm

I'm not saying anything about his future performance, I'm saying he's not the stud he makes himself out to be.

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PackersRS's picture

March 02, 2012 at 04:17 pm

Then I must've missed where he portrayed himself as such a stud...

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bryce's picture

March 02, 2012 at 04:32 pm

"It's a grown-man league"...

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PackersRS's picture

March 02, 2012 at 04:56 pm

Nothing in there indicates he has a big head.

It's just a guy noticing the huge difference between playing against kids his own age or younger as opposed to 10 year vets, and giving the advice to a former teammate.

If anything, it shows humbleness and selflessness.

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bryce's picture

March 02, 2012 at 05:39 pm

"Nothing in there indicates he has a big head.

It’s just a guy noticing the huge difference between playing against kids his own age or younger as opposed to 10 year vets, and giving the advice to a former teammate.

If anything, it shows humbleness and selflessness."

Hmm, maybe you're right...I saw it as more of a "I'm tough guy" statement...when really he hasn't proved himself yet.

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PackersRS's picture

March 02, 2012 at 05:52 pm

The thing is, he didn't make any public statement. The only reason we know what Sherrod said was because Cox told the media...

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CheeseheadKevin's picture

March 02, 2012 at 01:36 pm

If you ask me Sherrod played well last year for a couple of reasons like Aaron said. Playing out of position (RT) and no offseason work outs. Sherrod did not even get a try at right tackle in preseason. He played L guard and tackle in preseason. So give the guy a break. He will be a fine NFL player if he continues to heal and learn the NFL game.

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Nononsense's picture

March 02, 2012 at 02:05 pm

Right now im pretty sold on drafting Whitney Mercilus at 28 but Cox is one guy that if available is a pick I can get on board with.

We need pass rushers so I don't really care if the guy is a DL or OLB but I would like to see at least one drafted in the 1st round.

Warren Sapp has said Cox reminds him of himself as a player. Thats a pretty good endorsement of his ability IMO.

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PackersRS's picture

March 02, 2012 at 03:26 pm

Sapp was useless in a 3-4.

Of course, being a Raider might have something to do with it, but he himself says he was out of place playing in the 3-4 (IIRC they used the Patriots' mold of a 3-4, with 2 gap DL, and not the zone blitz).

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Nononsense's picture

March 03, 2012 at 05:22 pm

Id have to guess if they drafted Cox it would be for his interior pass rush ability and picking him that high is justified by how much Nickel they run here.

Dom would be foolish to waste that ability by making a him a two gapper. Draft him and let him do his thing and thats penetrate and be disruptive.

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Fish/crane's picture

March 04, 2012 at 01:19 pm

I think what's missing here is that the Packers are making grown ups- or drafting them...

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