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INDIANAPOLIS — Fletcher Cox took the media by surprise on Saturday when discussing his sports background — he was a member of a 4x100 track team in high school. Not a common activity, necessarily, for someone who became a defensive tackle in college.
Then, he was 240 pounds and also played power forward on the basketball team. Now, he is 295 and PFW's top-ranked three-technique heading into April's draft. Cox had 14½ tackles for loss and five sacks as a junior and decided to skip his senior year to enter the draft.
"I felt like I was ready to compete at the next level. I talked to my position coach and asked him, 'Do you think I'm mature enough?' He told me he thought I was," Cox said about coming out early. "The whole month of December I talked to (my family) about it. When it all came down to it, it was my decision."
Cox said the NFL draft advisory board projected him as an early second-rounder.
"I was a little mad about it. Once I go out and test and prove that I can go out in the first round," he said when asked if the draft grade was "acceptable."
Cox said he can also play the five-technique, showing the versatility he had in college, which made him a force in the SEC.
"A lot of offensive linemen tried to slow me down, tried to get me going before I started," he said. "So I just started out fast and kept it going."
In the passing era of the NFL, Cox said one thing he wants to improve is his pass-rush abilities, which could be a big asset for teams looking to get penetration from the inside.
"I think I can be a whole lot better at pass rushing, better with my hands off the edge," he said. "Since the season has been over, I've been doing lots of hand drills. Not that my hands are slow — just developing more pass-rush moves is the biggest thing I've been working on."
Cox said he looks at ends more often than three-techniques in the NFL, pointing out Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware. "I like how he rushes and gets after the quarterback."
Cox showed confidence that his testing and interviews will help set him apart, and he wanted teams to know about his character.
"I have good character. I'm a good guy not just on the field but off the field," he said. "A guy that takes coaching. I do whatever coaches tell me to do."