The Cowboys enter the 2022 season with a few question marks. One glaring issue is the depth at the linebacker position. They don’t lack bodies per se, but there’s a mixture of unproven and injury-prone talent in the room.

This past Sunday, ESPN released a list of top 25 under-the-radar prospects that could have breakout seasons in 2022. Despite his limited rookie campaign, Jabril Cox of the Cowboys came in at no. 24 on the list.

Rivers McCown on Cox:

“A North Dakota transfer who moved up to LSU for his senior season, Cox notched 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 picks and 8 passes defensed with 58 tackles for the Bayou Bengals. For his college career, he finished with 33 passes defensed including nine picks. At 6-foot-3, 232 pounds, there was some concern about his ability to take on more physical players at LSU.

“What we didn’t get to see in 2021 was any kind of response to that criticism. Cox barely played before a right ACL tear ended his season in October. He did miss some preseason tackles pretty badly, but was more up-and-down than outright bad. Still, the major bugaboo for him is going to be whether he can deal with the run enough to be more than a spot player in the NFL.”

Cox got off to a pretty good start last preseason. At one point, according to Pro Football Focus, Cox and Micah Parsons were the highest graded rookie linebackers in terms of run defense. Naturally, that made the buzz around Cox elevate. However, his play had to translate once the games started to count.

The former LSU Tiger appeared in each of his first seven games as a rookie, but not in the capacity new would have liked. Cox only logged nine defensive snaps over that span as opposed to 123 on special teams. Unfortunately for Cox, his inaugural NFL campaign was cut short by a torn ACL that he suffered in the Cowboys’ Week 8 win against the Vikings.

The Cowboys have kicked off training Cowboys in Oxnard, California. Cox getting back into the mix is extremely encouraging to see. Of course, an ACL is delicate and should be treated as such. However, seeing Cox fly around and remind the world of his speed, athleticism, and range can only give people goosebumps when factoring in that he’ll be playing next to Parsons, and potentially make them an impactful duo.

When a player is coming back from an injury, teams always put together a game plan to get said player where he needs to be while also being precautious in the process. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is of the same mindset, and praised not only Cox’s recovery but vouched for his character.

“He’s going to be here a lot quicker than anybody thinks he is,” said Jones. “I mean, I think he’s going to be here pronto. We’ve got a good plan for him. …I haven’t seen much to his equal as far as what a leader he is. It’s that distinctive.”

Interesting nugget there from Jones, and we’ll be watching to see how true it all is.

Feature image via Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports