2012 NFL Mock Draft: Fletcher Cox Improves Panthers Defensive Line

With the ninth pick in SB Nation's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Carolina Panthers select Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox.

The Panthers had some defensive tackle trouble last season so Cox fills an immediate need, which is to help shore up the run defense. With Charles Johnson at defensive end, the team needs to establish a strong interior presence. SB Nation's Panthers blog, Cat Scratch Reader, explains the pick:

There is no question the Panthers will look to bolster the defense with this draft, and that starts up front at DT where the Panthers were terrible at stopping the run last year. Though the Panthers would prefer an elite pass rusher like Quinton Coples, with Coples off the board, instead they take Fletcher Cox as the best DT in the draft. In spite of Dontari Poe getting all the hype from the combine Cox was just as impressive and is a better fit for the Panthers scheme.

Cox can play anywhere along the 4-3 front line, plays with a relentless motor and is the best DT in this draft getting off his blocks and making plays against the run and pass. Cox played against top flight competition and is a strong, agile and athlete DT who can make plays in the backfield and might end up the best interior pass rusher in this draft. Another big plus is no one questions his effort and he enters the NFL as a high character guy with no red flags.

For more analysis of the pick, visit Mocking The Draft. SB Nation's Bills blog, Buffalo Rumblings, is on the clock with the 10th pick.

Fletcher Cox 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)

For more on the Panthers, visit Cat Scratch Reader. And click here to follow along the rest of SB Nation's NFL mock draft.

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