Pittsburgh CB Torrie Cox had a strong game against Miami WR Andre Johnson in 2002
After spending most of Day Two adding to their offensive line, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers concluded their 2003 draft by returning to the defensive side ball. Choosing at pick number 205, late in the sixth round, the Bucs selected University of Pittsburgh CB Torrie Cox.
Cox (5-9, 181) played four seasons at Pitt and started two, recording 156 tackles, three interceptions, 28 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He also handled kickoff returns for the Panthers the last two seasons, compiling a 24.2-yard average on 65 career returns.
A Miami native, Cox earned all-conference first-team honors as a senior in 2002, racking up 82 tackles, two interceptions and 13 passes defensed. Against Virginia Tech, he combined five tackles with an interception (returned 38 yards), a pass defensed and three kickoff returns for 61 yards. Cox also famously handled Miami WR Andre Johnson, the third overall pick in the draft.
"That was fun coming back home," said Cox of the Miami game. "He's one of the top guys on their team, and I had to put on a performance. This is my hometown. I'm a football player, and I came to play, too. That's how I looked at the game."
Cox was the first defensive player selected by the Buccaneers since their opening salvo of Louisville DE Dewayne White in the second round. Tampa Bay made a total of six picks in the draft, also acquiring QB Chris Simms in the third round, T Lance Nimmo and C Austin King in the fourth round and G Sean Mahan in the fifth. The Bucs did not own a seventh-round selection.
Though he was the 39th defensive back selected in the draft, Cox was confident that he would emerge as one of the best of his class.
"I'm feeling so blessed right now," he said, shortly after learning of his selection. "I thank the whole Tampa Bay staff and the whole organization right now. They got a good player. They got one of the best players out of the draft. It feels good to come play for the Super Bowl champs. Let's go for round two."
The Bucs have had very good success drafting cornerbacks over the last decade, hitting on such picks Brian Kelly in the second round, Ronde Barber and Dwight Smith in the third round and Tim Wansley in the seventh round. Tampa Bay's corners are asked to play a physical brand of football, helping extensively in run support.
"I like their system," said Cox. "Their whole defense comes and they hit. All I can do is play how I've been playing my whole life, and that's hard work and playing hard-nosed football. Wherever I fit in there, I fit in. I'm just coming to help them go for round two.
"I'm just coming in to learn. There are older guys that have more experience than I do, so they can teach me. If they are willing to teach me, I am willing to learn. I'm coming in to play football, and wherever I fit in, I fit in. I want to be the next great one just like them. I'm just following behind a lot of guys' footsteps, and I am going to keep on rolling with that."
Like most young players, Cox may have to earn his way onto the roster by way of special teams work. He sees that as an opportunity rather than a limitation.
"That makes the other part of my game," said Cox. "That makes me better at the cornerback position because you get to do a lot of things on special teams. I'm just a hard worker, and that's it."