Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Didinger said that of all of the defensive linemen in this year’s draft, DT Fletcher Cox was the best.
That’s high praise. And there was a lot more of it from inside of the Eagles organization.
In the lead up to the draft, Cox was described universally as a tremendous athlete. At 6’4, 298 lbs, he ran the 40 in 4.79, amazing speed for a player his size. But Cox doesn’t have speed alone. He combines it with athleticism, talent, intelligence, and ability.
Cox’s new employers inside the Eagles organization couldn’t say enough about their newest player. Indeed, their move up 3 spots to get him speaks volumes.
Head coach Andy Reid had this to say about Cox:
We think that Fletcher Cox is a tremendous player, in particular at the college level. We think that will translate well over into the NFL. He’s a defensive tackle, and he has the speed and athletic ability where he could play outside if needed. He gives us a little flexibility. He’s a very intelligent kid, and he’s young. He has the whole package. He was someone that we targeted, and we tried to stay aggressive and go get him.
Reid sees Cox’s intelligence and athleticism as benefitting the Eagles’ defensive line in a number of ways.
“Whether he was a three [technique] or a one [technique], he can do either one. Whether he is inside or outside on the guard , he can make that work in there. I think what you saw, and see with Cullen, is tremendous quickness off the ball and speed. You’ll see that with him. That fits into what we do schematically. He’s built for this style of a defense where you’re rushing the passer and reading the run.”
Defensive line coordinator Jim Washburn went to Mississippi to work out Cox and had nothing but the highest praise for the young lineman.
“He’s just such a good athlete. I told [head coach] Andy [Reid] when I came back from working him out in Starkville, he’s the biggest 296-pounder I’ve ever seen. He’s quick and he’s just really athletic. His feet and hands work so well together. He’s just a really good football player.”
Washburn said that Cox displayed all of the qualities he needs to see in his lineman.
“He’s an exploder and he’s tough. He can’t explode, I don’t want him. If they don’t love football, I don’t have any use for him. He explodes, he can play, he’s passionate, and he likes it. He loves football.”
In his time with Cox, Washburn found the 21-year old lineman to be a fast learner. That, combined with this God-given ability, is a coach’s dream. It certainly is one for Washburn.
“He moves like a guy who is 260 pounds. The thing about him is he is so much stronger than he looks. He’s a good one and I’m excited about him. I’m not going to coach forever, and if this was my last big time project here, this would be fun.”