Some news and Brandon Cox scouting report
I've been in Destin for a few weeks, taking some time to relax on the beach and ponder the truly important things in life. Do I want another beer? Beach or pool? Fudpuckers or LaRocco's?
Vacation has ended. That means I'm back to the scouting reports and Auburn updates.
The NFL draft was relatively uneventful for the Auburn Tigers this season. OT Marcus McNeill went in the second round to the San Diego Chargers. My prediction is that he'll become a good player, not a great one, and will make a name for himself in 2009 and 2010. Then he'll hurt his back and that'll be a wrap. Marcus will be rich by then, of course, which is all that matters. He knows how the system works. Marcus hired a financial planner before hiring an agent.
How's that for worldly awareness?
Some people are surprised that DE Stanley McClover dropped to the seventh round. His 40-yard dash (4.5s) was excellent, and strength isn't a big issue with him. So why the drop? My guess is that Stanley's interviews didn't go well. I don't think intelligence is the issue -- it's not like I have empirical evidence one way or the other -- but Stanley never learned how to present himself in a professional way. Some scouts were put off by Stanley's leisurely approach to things. There's a fine line between laid-back and ambivalent. I know Stanley cares about being a better player; I'm just not sure GMs can understand that in a 10-minute interview.
Again, that's my opinion.
I think McClover will emerge as a useful player. I hope management is patient with him while he learns how to cope in the NFL. Stanley has the tools to be a commodity.
Here's my approach to Brandon Cox. I wasn't high on him coming into last season (a position that was surprisingly unpopular at the time) but he made steady progress as the season progressed. His role in the UGA comeback is underrated. I didn't think Brandon was capable of making that 4th-down pass. He showed me something right there.
BRANDON COX, QB (No. 12)
6-2, 200, Junior
The basics: Signed in 2002 after earning "Mr. Football" honors at Hewitt-Trussville High. He missed 18 months or so after a recurrence of myasthenia gravis, a serious and sometimes fatal neuromuscular disorder. He is forced to take antibiotics to fight the disease. Those medications lead to a loss of bone density, which Cox counteracts by ingesting lots of calcium. That's a bad situation for a kid who is open to blind-side hits on Saturdays. Auburn coaches loved Cox's accuracy in high school, and it has translated well to college ball. He completed 58% of his passes as a first-year starter in 2005. He threw 15 touchdown passes and was intercepted eight times. Four of those interceptions, though, came in the first game against Georgia Tech.
2006 outlook: Cox goes into the season as the team's only legitimate option at quarterback. Not that anyone at Auburn is fretting. Cox was at least adequate last season. After the Teach debacle, Al Borges changed Cox's role in the offense, taking away some responsibility. That was fine considering how good the running game was. Cox rarely had to be the main cog in the offense last season. With Kenny Irons and Co. back at tailback and the OL looking at least average, Cox probably won't be on the spot too much this season. His arm looked stronger to me in the spring. Cox threw deep with more authority, which was his only major weakness in 2005. He could throw beyond 25 yards last year. It's just that the ball would float. Those passes have more speed on them now, which should make Cox a more versatile threat. Corners and safeties can't just wait for the long floaters anymore.
Summary: Cox isn't a star yet. He seemed to take a step back in the bowl game. I found that surprising. I know the entire team was in a funk that day, nobody disputes this, but Cox seemed weak to me. Considering the myasthenia gravis situation, weakness never is good. He wasn't weak in spring ball. I just think the disease has flare-ups we never hear about. There are scientists out there who cannot believe Cox is playing with this disorder. We haven't heard the end of Cox and MG. He'll be a B or a B+ player for a few years, though I believe he's going to miss games at some point because of weakness. It'll be identified as something else. Another thing that confuses me is how some people say Cox is a great leader. He's not right now; McNeill and Courtney Taylor were the in-huddle leaders last season. That may change this year, I don't know, but Cox's leadership isn't yet a major asset.
Stamina/durability: 60 (he's been good so far)
Football aptitude: 60