NFL Draft Profile: Marcus Cox, Appalachian State

For three seasons, Marcus Cox was possibly the most dangerous running back in the Sun Belt

Program: Appalachian State Mountaineers

Position: Running back 

Height/Weight: 5’10″/205

Accolades: 2016 All-Sun Belt 2nd Team Offense, 2015 All-Sun Belt 2nd Team Offense, 2014 All-Sun Belt 2nd Team Offense, 4X 1,000 yard rusher, Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, Mountaineers’ All Time Leading Rusher

When coaching staffs prepare for the Mountaineers, the first order of business is to do something about the running game. For three Sun Belt seasons (plus one in the Southern), that meant finding a way to stop Marcus Cox. Good luck. Cox tallied 3,853 bone-breaking rush yards in three years of Sun Belt action. The offense didn’t require him to catch many passes, but he managed 48 receptions in three seasons with three resulting in touchdowns. Even after missing 4 games with a “left leg injury” his senior season, Cox put up 1,015 yards and seven 100+ yard games, including 143 on Toledo for the Camellia Bowl win.

Why every NFL team would be damn lucky to have Marcus Cox hauling their rock

Cox has a fearless, dance-less, bruising style that softens up defensive lines, but he can also flash decent speed. During his injury plagued 2016 season, Cox filed four games with at least one run of 35 yards or more. He’s numbers aren’t a result of playing against smaller Sun Belt defensive lines (how dare you). This season, Cox pounded Tennessee for 115 yards. He averaged 6 yards per carry against Miami before leaving with an injury. As mentioned, he drilled Toledo’s beefy line for 143 yards and a score. At 5’10 and 205lbs, Cox has the size of a proto-NFL back.

 

Oh, so sorry, NFL Scouts, if Marcus Cox isn’t perfect!

Cox isn’t exactly Usain Bolt; he posted a 4.65 during his pro day 40. But Cox is more about power than speed and besides, where he lacks in bursts he makes up for with efficiency – no dancing and juking. Still, some NFL scouts have concerns:

Lacks an NFL burst. Not much juice in his feet and his cuts lack suddenness. Strides approaching line of scrimmage appear to be same length and pace. Has to head downhill with more urgency. As interior runner, appears to anticipate contact too early, causing him to shell up. Creativity as a runner is hit or miss from run to run. Unlikely option as third-down back.

He’s an “unlikely option as third down back” because he’s first down material. See? I cleared up everything.

Where will Marcus Cox land on Draft Day?

CBSSports and the NFL see Cox as an UDFA. That’s a shame. Along with Larry Rose III, Elijah McGuire and Matt Breida, Cox is part of a golden era for Sun Belt running backs. Cox deserves more than just a free agent contract. Perhaps when rounds six and seven arrive, a smart NFL GM will see the value.

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