With the ninth pick of Pride of Detroit's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Carolina Panthers select Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. DLions4Eva is serving as the Panthers' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
The reason I chose Cox (who I think is the best defensive tackle in this draft) is because I felt that the Panthers needed defensive help more than anything else, namely the defensive line, and with the 28th ranked defense last year, he will be a welcomed addition. Their run defense was as toothless as it could've been. The pass rush was non-existent with Charles Johnson being the only name on that defense, and he now has a worthy partner to improve that unit.
Cox is a big framed guy who, at 6-4 and 300 lbs., has room to grow. The consensus on this kid is his motor is very high and he plays 100 percent from the first play to the last. He isn't the most explosive defensive tackle in the draft, but he's the most NFL ready. He's not weak in any one area, but not dominant either. Cox is a well-rounded player with a lot of potential.
He had 56 tackles and five sacks last season and was named All-SEC First Team as well. He has three years of starting experience and even blocked four kicks in his career. Though he really only had one good season for Mississippi State, he warranted that season into a first round draft status. Cox and Johnson will be unstoppable forces for years to come as they improve the defense around them.
I felt that because the Panthers' biggest need was a defensive playmaker, this guy will be the anchor for this team and will make plays. Last year against the Lions, third-string tailback Kevin Smith had a career day against that weak unit, and even though Cam Newton and the offense scored 35 points, it wasn't enough to beat the high flying Lions offense, which scored 49 on that defense.
It was between Cox and LSU's Michael Brockers, but to me Cox is the better of the two. Brockers is the better pass rusher but needs polishing and might not be ready to contribute as much as Cox in his first year. Cox may need to put on more weight, but he is ready to start from day one and that's my plan with this pick.
Check out the 2012 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.