Philadelphia Eagles 2013 Breakout Candidate: Fletcher Cox

By Matt Lombardo
Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports

Already a member of the 2012 Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team, Fletcher Cox is hungry for more in 2013.

As a rookie, Cox emerged as a disruptive force as a pass rusher, posting a team-leading 5.5 sacks and adding 39 tackles and one forced fumble, after being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 11th overall draft choice.

The Mississippi State product became an integral piece of the Birds’ defensive line almost immediately from the tackle position, but as a sophomore, he’ll be asked to slide to the outside as a 3-4 defensive end, while also staying inside at the tackle spot in 4-3 situations. At 6’4”, 298 pounds, Cox certainly has the size to play inside with the raw strength and athletic ability to bully offensive tackles off the line of scrimmage from the defensive end spot.

However, after a rookie season that saw Cox and his defensive teammates being asked to adapt to two defensive coordinators and two defensive line coaches, even amid being asked to jostle positions this season, the consistency must be a welcomed sight.

“I did the same thing in college, moving around a whole lot. Defensive end, defensive tackle. It didn’t matter where I was,”Cox pointed out earlier this spring during OTA’s. “Certain packages, certain situations, they want me outside or they want me inside. I’ve got to get the job done.”

Certainly looking to build on a strong rookie campaign, it helps Cox to have the ability to adapt in a scheme such as first-year defensive coordinator Bill Davis‘, which will ask the linemen to line up in various positions and do different things depending on what the situation calls for.

“I enjoy it. It’s the most fun part about it. It’s fun. I get to see a lot of different looks, not just the same look inside.”

With players such as Trent Cole and Brandon Graham likely being asked to transition to linebacker in Davis’s scheme, the door is wide open for Cox to become the team’s most dominant pass rusher, be it coming off the edge or as a bull rusher from the tackle spot.

After all the 22-year-old was forced to overcome as a rookie, combined with his work ethic and versatility, it would not be shocking to see Cox emerge this season as one of the premier pass rushers in the league in just his second season.

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* Quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.

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