PROFILE: Rakim CoxPosition: Defensive End
School Bio: Villanova
Villanova little-known defensive end Rakim Cox is a prospect who could be a hidden gem in April’s NFL draft. Cox had an impressive college career and recently gained attention from NFL scouts with his performance in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl All-Star game. He registered five tackles and a QB pressure/breakup. I believe teams will be more impressed with the player’s potential once the game tape is on.
Intangibles: Cox is a very good pass rusher who set things up with speed. He uses his hands well versus the run by extending his arms and locking to get separation from linemen. He demonstrates quick and explosive hands like a boxer and does a nice job disengaging from blocks, which is essential for a defensive end in the run game. He shows a quick first step with relentless pursuit and movement skills to contain all pass actions. Cox has good agility and quickness so he can angle and stunt off the edge. He can play physical or with finesse, finishes well and durable. He shows good flexibility, strong work ethic, study habits and high football IQ.
Versatility: Cox played primarily in a 3-3-5 defensive scheme, but can play in either a three- or four-man defensive front. He shows the skill set to play a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end. However, he will need to add bulk for the 4-3 end scenario. Some teams may have interest in him as a 3-4 defensive end.
Cox can do a lot of different things in sub packages. He’s effective rushing the passer, whether he’s standing up in a 2-point stance or down in a 3-point stance. The learning curve will likely be dropping back into coverage as a 3-4 outside linebacker where he has limited experience. Strong/weakside pass-rusher or strongside outside backer in a 4-3 defense would be a likely fit in the pros.
Cox was also a standout for the Wildcats on special teams with three blocked kicks. At the end of the day, the player will earn his money rushing the passer.
Production: Cox was a first-team All-CAA selection for his senior campaign. The defensive end was the top playmaker for the Villanova defense and a starter on the defensive line for four seasons. Cox finished the season with a career-high 10 sacks, 30 total tackles, including 11.5 for loss.
In 48 career games for the Wildcats, Cox tallied 18 sacks and a total of 33.5 tackles for loss, 105 total tackles, 16 breakups, four forced fumbles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Improve on: Cox could play with a little better pad level, but is good in one-on-one block destruction against the run. There are some technical things he can improve on such as hand position (wide). This pass rusher will need to develop more power moves. He works hard in the weight room but could get stronger.
Blemishes: A broken hand his junior year caused him to miss three months of lifting.
Big C’s inside report
Cox may have been an underachiever his first two seasons at Villanova. But Defensive Coordinator Roc Bellantoni saw something in him and knew he had what it took to play at the next level. According to Bellantoni, he had a sit-down conversation with the player during that time and talked about commitment to changing his body and working as hard as he could.
Bellantoni said Cox did everything asked of him in order to get better. He dropped 15 pounds and got faster, stronger in the weight room and made himself into an NFL player.
Cox received high praise from his former coach, which speaks volume about his character and will go a long way with teams during the evaluation process.
“Rakim is one of my all-time favorites,” Bellantoni said. “He’s a great player and even better person. He’s the dream kid you want in your program. Rakim is one of the most committed players I’ve ever been around, and that include Tony Romo (who he coached at Eastern Illinois). He’s always trying to improve his craft and get better. His commitment is what’s going set him apart from everyone else.”