OT Jason Fox (Miami) - Round 4, Pick No. 128
In the months leading up to the draft, many people believed that the Lions were going to select Russell Okung with the second overall pick in order to "give Matthew Stafford some protection." The majority of Lions fans realized that wasn't likely because the coaching staff thinks highly of Jeff Backus and wouldn't just suddenly move him to left guard. That became even more obvious after the Lions traded for Rob Sims, seemingly setting the starting offensive line.
Although the starting situation with the offensive line appears to be in order right now, the Lions still needed to draft a tackle or guard to build the depth on the O-line. Last Saturday the Lions addressed that need by selecting tackle Jason Fox in the fourth round. No, Fox isn't going to come in and suddenly become a franchise left tackle or displace Gosder Cherilus from the starting right tackle spot from day one, but that isn't necessarily what the Lions need at this point in time. What they do need is a tackle that can develop into a solid backup quickly and someday become a starting-caliber player. There's no certainty that Fox will end up being that type of player, but the early returns are that he fits that type of mold quite well.
What he brings: Fox has great length at 6-foot-7 and adequate feet for his size. He needs to get stronger in the core and doesn't have great inline power, but a few years in the weight room should help him vie for more playing time.
How he fits: A third offensive tackle was needed badly as Jon Jansen filled that role last year, but his days are numbered given his age and injury history. If Fox develops quickly, some say Jeff Backus could even move inside to guard as he ages. He is not a sure pick, but he does offer needed depth.
Positives: Tough, fundamentally sound blocker and one of the more underrated offensive tackles in this draft. Terrific position blocker, keeps his feet moving, and anchors at the point, sealing defenders from the action. Explosive, quickly gets his hands into defenders, and correctly places them to keep opponents away. Better-than-average footwork sliding out in pass protection and easily rides defenders from their angle of attack.
Negatives: Not an overpowering blocker or a lineman who consistently finishes blocks. Ineffective blocking in motion.
While Fox has been a starter for four years at both right and left tackle his foot agility and lateral range may be on the marginal side for a left tackle in the NFL. He is a tough athlete that has proven his willingness to play with pain. He still needs improvement in his temperament on the field. He does not always finish blocks off or look to punish opponents as often as he could. Fox’s status may drop some in the draft as he will need rehab on an injured knee that he was playing with during his senior season. He is not a natural knee bender and will play with his pads too high at times.
Fox is a converted tight end who displays a good first step to the outside. He moves to the second level well and locates and gets to defenders nicely. He's improving as a run blocker but clearly needs to continue working on his strength. Fox has some good tools, but must continue to work on the nuances of the position. He has some added value because of his versatility playing tackle and guard.
Highlights against North Carolina:
Interview at 2008 ACC football kickoff:
Outlook for 2010
As mentioned already, Fox should be able to use his rookie season as a time to develop. While developing, the hope would be for him to get into the rotation as a backup at either tackle position, making him ready to go in case a starter goes down with an injury. How quickly he develops and if he develops into a starting tackle in the future remains to be seen, but with Gosder Cherilus' future not exactly all that certain right now based on the way he played last year and Jeff Backus not getting any younger, the reality of the situation is that the Lions could be in need of a new starter at tackle down the road. The obvious hope is that Fox will develop into a player that can take over at either position if he is needed.