Every year there are a couple of relatively unknown players that are able to step up and make an NFL team’s roster. Undrafted free agents, futures contracts, practice squad veterans, Canadian Football League stars, and even the odd crossover from another sport. There is always someone who comes out and surprises everyone, and the Kansas City Chiefs have had their share.
Last year, the surprise additions came in the form of Albert Wilson at wide receiver and Cairo Santos as the new kicker. Both players now look to be in a position to reclaim their prominent roles on the team moving forward.
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This series is going to take a look at the current batch of long shots, camp bodies, and roster fillers to see if there might be one or more of those “diamond in the rough” type players to be had.
Feb 23, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Justin Cox runs the 40 yard dash during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
One of the fastest players at the 2015 NFL Combine, Justin Cox is a converted cornerback now lined up at safety. Cox went undrafted this year in large part to his off the field issues stemming around an arrest for burglary and domestic assault. The domestic assault charge was dropped at the victim’s request and Cox plead guilty to a misdemeanor trespassing charge. Cox started out his college career as a JUCO player. There, his speed was able to make him one of the top players on the board. However, that did not translate well to the FBS level and he was unable to secure the starting job at Mississippi State.
What does he have going for him?
Speed and athleticism are the greatest tools at Cox’s disposal. He’s faster and more athletic than just about everyone on the field. That will always give a player a chance at making a roster. Also working to his favor is the fact that the safety position is a bit unsettled for the future. Apart from Ron Parker, none of the Chiefs top safety options are currently signed beyond 2015. That means there will be plenty of chances for young guys to catch the eyes of the coaching staff.
What hurdles does he have?
When watching his college tape, Cox simply doesn’t look like he understands the concepts of the position he’s playing. He fails to recognize routes, gets faked out easily, and takes poor angles. Anything beyond a footrace downfield, and it’s a good chance he will get beat. Also, while he has the height the Chiefs like, he has a very lean and slender frame. That’s a concern against the run, as well as against larger receivers and tight ends who will want to get physical against him.
What is his best chance?
Cox needs to prove he wants to be on the field. That will mean special teams and dedicating himself to learning both the playbook and the techniques he needs to be successful on the field. He won’t be getting many second chances due to his history, so he has to commit himself to being a Kansas City Chief.
I think Justin Cox will make the Chiefs 53-man roster coming out of training camp, but eventually ends up on the Practice Squad or with a mysterious injury to go on injured reserve. The Chiefs need some bodies until Eric Berry comes back, and Cox has shown up pretty well thus far in OTAs.
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