Cowboys Sign Historic Draft Pick to Multi-Year Deal [LOOK]

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Getty Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Fresh off an impressive rookie minicamp, Jabril Cox is now officially a Dallas Cowboy.

The Cowboys signed the fourth-round linebacker to a four-year deal, the team announced Thursday. Dallas also came to terms with fourth-round rookie offensive tackle Josh Ball.

Cox and Ball — each projected to earn $660,000 in base salary for 2021, per Spotrac — are the latest Dallas draft picks to put pen to paper. The team previously inked fifth-round wide receiver Simi Fehoko, sixth-round defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna and defensive back Israel Mukuamu, and seventh-round offensive lineman Matt Farniok to their respective pay-scaled pacts.

First-round linebacker Micah Parsons, second- and third-round cornerbacks Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright, and third-round defensive linemen Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston remain unsigned.

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Background on Cox

The No. 115 overall choice of last month’s 2021 NFL draft, the former LSU standout was the sixth consecutive defensive player selected by the Cowboys — a new franchise record.

A high school quarterback, Cox began his collegiate career at North Dakota State. He was named the conference Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-MVFC in 2018 after posting 9.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and four interceptions (two pick-sixes).

He transferred to LSU in 2020 and continued displaying his playmaking prowess. The two-time FCS All-American was all over the field last season, notching 37 solo stops, 6.5 TFLs, five pass deflections, three INTs and one defensive touchdown.

Cox is an explosive, sideline-to-sideline rover capable of manning deep safety or in-the-box linebacker. He was forecast to come off the board in Round Two. He lasted until Round Four. As such, an opportunistic (if fortuitous) Dallas landed the draft’s biggest steal, according to Mike Brenner of Pro Football Focus.

The fact that the Cowboys even drafted Cox should tell you how high they were on his services. The Cowboys took the LSU linebacker in the fourth round despite a relative logjam at off-the-ball linebacker, with Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, newly signed free agent Keanu Neal, and first-round pick Micah Parsons in the fold.

Cox was the 45th-ranked player on PFF’s draft board and has earned coverage grades over 80.0 in each of the past three seasons between North Dakota State and LSU. He saw only 41 targets this past season, but Cox still picked off three passes and broke up four more. He may not play right away, but don’t be surprised when he locks down a starting role in Dallas.

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Instant Impact

Cox’s abilities were on full display during last weekend’s rookie camp when he intercepted tryout quarterback Brady Davis, whose pass was deflected by Parsons. Both first-year linebackers drew significant praise from the media, including the Cowboys’ in-house reporters.

Micah Parsons will likely do a little bit of everything at the linebacker position, from box work to rushing in certain packages, and that was on display Saturday. The first-round pick showed explosiveness diagnosing and busting up a couple of run plays, and he also got past fourth-round pick Josh Ball on one play while rushing from the left edge.

The Cowboys’ second draft pick at the linebacker position also was productive. Fourth-round pick Jabril Cox was one of the top coverage linebackers in the 2021 class, and he showed why in team drills, dropping back some 30 yards and picking off a deflected pass.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL