The Off-Season Progression of DT Fletcher Cox Will Be a Priority for Philadelphia Eagles

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The expectations for DT Fletcher Cox have remained sky-high ever since he was drafted in the first round (12th overall) of last year’s 2012 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Cox was an absolute beast throughout his college career at Mississippi State University, where he was named a first-team All-American during his junior year in 2011. The Eagles have been in dire need of a true presence in the center of their d-line for some time now, and they chose Cox as their savior in the trenches.

Unfortunately, defensive linemen have been notorious for becoming NFL busts with great frequency due to the massive differential between NCAA caliber and professional caliber offensive linemen.

There have been a plethora of d-linemen who have entered the league as highly-touted early round picks in the past decade alone, before they are quickly forgotten and shoved out of the NFL after they prove to be ill-equipped and unimpressive from speed and strength standpoints.

While Cox didn’t blow anybody away with his production during his 2012 rookie season, he certainly showed great potential in nearly every aspect of play.

Cox possesses the speed and quickness to squeeze through tight gaps, and he also has the ability to plant himself in the middle of the trenches and take up blockers so that his linebackers can steal the glory.

During his rookie year, Cox totaled 39 tackles, 5.5 sacks, a forced fumble and four pass deflections. While these numbers are not gaudy by any means, the actual statistics of a defensive lineman can be very misleading considering their job a lot of the time is just to plug up gaps as opposed to actually bringing down ball-carriers.

With the 2013 NFL off-season now underway, the Eagles are going to need Cox to step up and anchor the squad’s young and largely unproven defensive line.

If Cox is able to establish himself as a leader and a model teammate in 2013 and beyond, he may be able to help revive the career of the aging Eagles DE Trent Cole, and act as a catalyst to the success of the still-budding DE Brandon Graham.

I see Cox becoming a key contributor in the Eagles’ defensive revamp in 2013, as the Birds turn the page on their woeful 4-12 campaign with hopes of improvement at every position.

 

Please follow Joe on Twitter @Joe_RantNFL for all Eagles/NFL insight.


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