Philadelphia Eagles 2012 NFL Draft Prospect: Mississippi State Defensive Tackle Fletcher Cox

By Bryn Swartz

One of the biggest strengths for the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles will likely be defensive tackle.

The team has Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson as its starters. Jenkins is a borderline Pro Bowler and arguably the top pass-rushing defensive tackle in the league. Patterson has been a solid starter for the past half-decade.

The Eagles also have good depth in Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri. Dixon is regarded as the team’s best run-stuffing defensive tackle, and he was greatly missed after he suffered a season-ending triceps injury in week four last season. Landri didn’t even make the original 53-man roster but he joined the team in week five and finished as the league’s fourth best defensive tackle, according to Pro Football Focus, despite playing in just 355 plays.

But defensive tackle is one of those positions that a team can never have too much depth in, especially a team like the Eagles who are notorious for rotating their defensive linemen so frequently.

And what’s not to love about a prospect like Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox?

Cox, 21, is rated as the top defensive tackle in the entire draft by most sources. He is a lock to be a first round pick, probably a top 10 pick. Some mock drafts have Cox going as high as pick number six to the St. Louis Rams.

He stands 6’4 and weighs 298 pounds, and has elite pass-rushing skills, something the Eagles love from defensive tackles. He’s very quick off the line and is a good run-stopper too (he ran a 4.79!). And he’s extremely versatile, possessing the ability to line up at both defensive tackle and defensive end in a 4-3 defense.

He also blocked four kicks in his final year of college.

Most draft experts consider Cox to be a sure-thing NFL starter and probably an eventual star.

For the Eagles to acquire a player like Cox, they would need to move up from their #15 pick in the first round. They could likely do so by swapping first round picks, as well as adding one of their two second round picks (46, 51).

Cox probably wouldn’t open the season as the team’s starter but in the Eagles’ rotation, it really wouldn’t matter. He’d be playing a good portion of plays, probably close to 50 percent, and he’d provide excellent depth in case of an injury.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Eagles would really be helped by drafting Cox. I’m just not sure if it’s necessary to trade up to get him, thus losing a second round pick. I’d rather prefer the Eagles pick the best player available at number 15 and keep all of their draft picks.

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