The Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive backfield is loaded with talent and depth at every position.
However, Demetrious Cox is looking to carve out a roster spot as one of the four or give safeties that figure to make the final roster. What does he offer the Bengals and does he have a real shot at making the 53-man roster?
Weight: 198 pounds
College: Michigan State
Hometown: Jeannette, PA
Draft Status: Undrafted in 2017
Cox is signed to a 3-year, $1,665,000 contract with the Bengals. In 2017, Cox will have a cap hit of $465,000 if he makes the final roster, according to Spotrac.
Cox was a standout with the Spartans over the past four years and has four career interceptions. Only one of those interceptions came in 2016, where he returned it for a touchdown, while also racking up five passes defended. At 6'1" and 197 pounds, he's a little small for his position in the NFL, so it will be interesting to see how he fits in Paul Guenther's defense.
Scouting reports show that Cox often puts himself in the right position in the back of the defense and was thought of as a possible Day 2 pick before the 2016 season. Unfortunately, Cox was part of a disappointing season for the Spartans, in which everybody's play dipped. That helped to cause him to go undrafted.
Now, Cox is looking to crack one of the Bengals’ deepest positions at safety, where George Iloka and Shawn Williams are entrenched as the starters.
The Bengals are relatively set, particularly at the starting spots at safety, so Cox will have an uphill battle to make the final roster. With Derron Smith having shown a lot of promise in his first two seasons, taking his roster spot seems like too much of a hill for Cox to climb. That’s also true with Clayton Fejedelem, who was getting plenty of defensive snaps during the final month of his rookie season, not to mention he was a mainstay on special teams. Fej even started in the Bengals’ preseason opener with Iloka sidelined due to injury.
However, a continued good showing in the preseason could earn Cox a spot on the practice squad. He was a standout played on Friday in the preseason opener, notching an interception in his first NFL action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The good news for Cox is he will be getting a lot more reps in the preseason as George Iloka sits out while recovering from a knee sprain. Though, Iloka returned to practice on Tuesday and looks to make it back for at least some preseason action, likely in Week 3. Iloka’s injury won’t impact how many safeties the Bengals keep on the final roster, as he should return to full action with plenty of time for Week 1 of the regular season.
That’s why Cox’s best hope at remaining with the Bengals is on the practice squad. Which he looks to be in good shape for. But we’ve still got three more weeks of preseason action, meaning there’s still plenty of work to be done to even that role.
Odds: 5 percent.