Rookie surprise: Jaguars CB Derek Cox

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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

When the Jaguars traded the New England Patriots a second-round pick in 2010 and a 2009 seventh-rounder for the third-round selection they used to draft William & Mary cornerback Derek Cox, a lot of eyebrows were raised.

I’m not one to put too much stock into predraft publications, but Cox wasn’t in Pro Football Weekly’s draft guide and Mel Kiper had Cox as his 106th cornerback. One person in a decision-making position in the AFC gave me the standard line about which of Cox’s school namesakes the player more brought to mind (not William). I asked another about where his team had Cox rated; he indicated it was nowhere near that high.

All of them and anyone who suspected GM Gene Smith and his scouting staff had overreached can’t say much now. They have to admit early returns suggest they underestimated Cox.

He has been a solid starter for Jacksonville. His two picks lead all rookies, and the first one ended his first NFL series, a takeaway of a Peyton Manning pass aimed for Reggie Wayne. He’s also got a fumble recovery.

The Jaguars say he’s a ball hawk who got beat some early and has been very solid since. The job’s not too big for him. Cox is not intimidated by names, reputations or statistics. He’s humble, smart and quietly goes about his business.

If he keeps doing it like this, he’s the sort of selection who could come to define the Smith regime -- in a good way.

Side note: The seventh round pick the Jaguars dealt away to New England as part of the package for the Cox pick was used by the Patriots on wide receiver Julian Edelman. Edelman is AFC East maestro Tim Graham's selection for his division's Rookie Surprise.