Today is the day a select few college football’s elite will realize their dreams and become members of the National Football League.
The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft takes place tonight in New York City and Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox will be on hand inside Radio City Music Hall as one of the nation’s best.
Cox, a Yazoo City native, has been in New York this week enjoying the pre-draft festivities and no doubt having conversations with any number of NFL teams all jockeying for position to draft the dominate defensive tackle.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, Cox has been labeled as a "can’t miss" prospect with tremendous upside. In fact, he has soared up the mock draft boards ever since he announced his intentions to enter the draft early as a junior leaving Mississippi State.
At first, he was a border-line first round selection before his combine showcase and individual workouts. Since that time, he’s moved into what appears to be top 10 status in tonight’s first round.
“I’m so proud of him,” said MSU head football coach Dan Mullen. “Here’s a kid from Mississippi that decided to stay and play for his home state school and now he is showing everybody that you can come here and we are going to develop players to become the best players in the country.
“It really shows that if you’re a young man in Mississippi, this is the place for you to make all of your dreams come true and give you the opportunity to become an NFL athlete.”
During his junior season, Cox turned in 56 tackles, including 14.5 tackles for a loss. However, it was a play late in the season that may have garnered the most attention for NFL scouts.
State fans will remember Cox scooping a football that appeared to be destined for the end zone as Arkansas was driving on the Bulldogs. Cox took the football some 52 yards and could only be caught by a Razorback tailback. His display of agility and speed took the attention to a new level as people began to see the freakish athleticism Cox possessed.
Charles Davis, of the NFL Network, has Cox slated to go fifth to Tampa Bay, while Michael Lombardi suggests he will be the sixth pick and call St. Louis home. Most agree he won’t slip past the Carolina Panthers as the ninth pick of the draft.
There are also theories suggesting the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, or Chicago Bears could make a draft day trade to slide into the top 10 to take Cox. Should Cox be selected in the first round of the draft, the Bulldogs would have back-to-back first round selections joining last year’s pick Derek Sherrod by the Green Bay Packers.
A top 10 selection would mark State’s top selection since Walt Harris went 13th overall in 1996.