Derek Cox is the hot name on Ravens fans’ lips, as the Ravens have added the former Jaguars, Chargers and Vikings cornerback, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. The Ravens cut Jace Davis to make room for the new addition.
Cox is a big, physically gifted cornerback. At 6’1″ and with sub 4.4 40-yard dash speed, Cox has all the physical tools to excel in the NFL.
But he has not done so, at least not consistently. Though his 13 interceptions in five years are impressive, he has surrendered far too many big plays. Last year, for instance, Cox surrendered 608 yards and four touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription needed). This despite playing less than 400 snaps in coverage. Opposing quarterbacks picked on him last year for good reason.
Though he was able to snag more interceptions in his four years as a Jaguar, Cox still surrendered too many big plays.
Still, Cox fits the description of what the Ravens want from their cornerbacks. He fits the physical profile of a press-man corner, able to jam receivers at the line yet with enough speed to recover from mistakes.
That said, there is no guarantee Cox makes the final roster. Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown have taken turns alternating between good and awful, while Tramain Jacobs has been steadily average. None of those three have been actively bad.
Ultimately, what the move means is that the Ravens lack confidence in their depth. It also means Jacobs’ uphill battle to make the roster just got that much harder. He is a safe bet for the practice squad at this point, assuming he gets past waivers.
Because of Cox’s physical skills, this is a low-risk, high-reward signing. Cox may be an upgrade over Franks and Brown, or he may struggle Thursday against the New Orleans Saints and get cut immediately. My guess is the latter, but there is no harm in taking a chance on an established NFL veteran.