Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox had a stellar rookie season by all accounts, racking up 5.5 sacks, splitting double and even sometimes triple-teams and stuffing the run in the backfield frequently.
Going into his second season, Cox is going to be a nice chess piece for new defensive coordinator Billy Davis to have at his disposal. Cox can play almost any position on the d-line, whether it be the nose tackle, the 3-technique, or even the 5-technique. He is effective both at stopping running backs in the backfield, and pressuring/sacking the quarterback. In this way, he is a rare athlete at the defensive tackle position.
While this may be a lofty comparison I liken Cox to J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.
Watt had a very similar rookie year to Cox as he got used to the speed of the game and strength of NFL offensive linemen, racking up 5.5 sacks in his rookie season. It was in his sophomore campaign that he became an absolute superstar on defense, exploding for 20.5 sacks and batting down balls seemingly at will while frustrating opposing QBs.
Watt seemed to be moved a lot more around the formation in his second season under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, and this caused his productivity to sky rocket.
Cox is getting similar looks early in camp. Like Watt, he is a physical freak of nature who can run and jump like a linebacker but with the girth and build of a defensive lineman. While living up to Watt’s monster campaign may be tricky, I fully expect Cox, in this new 3-4 hybrid look on defense, to become a dominant force in his second season as he is now fully accustomed to the speed of the league.
Take one look at Cox and he’ll remind longtime Eagles fans of the late great Jerome Brown. In those days, the Eagles d-line dominated and made their opponents dread coming into the Vet and playing them on Sundays. I believe with Cox’s continued development, along with another young and hungry player in Brandon Graham to pair with the consistent veteran Trent Cole, the Eagles can potentially get back to having a dominant defensive line once again.