The name most associated with the Eagles in mock drafts is Fletcher Cox, the stud defensive tackle from Mississippi State. If he's on the board at 15, I think the Eagles would hand in the pick immediately. The problem is that I'm not feeling very sure that Cox will last to the Eagles’ scheduled pick.
Jeff Fisher and the Rams could throw us all a curve ball and take him at No. 6. The Rams do have Darell Scott and Trevor Laws at under tackle, but clearly Cox would be a major upgrade. Fisher knows the value of a disruptive defensive tackle from his time around guys like Jerome Brown, Ray Childress and Albert Haynesworth. Cox has that kind of potential.
The seventh pick is a huge mystery to everyone. Jacksonville general manager Gene Smith has publicly talked about trading back. One of the players teams could move up for is Cox. If the Jaguars do stay put, it is difficult to know who they'll pick. The Jaguars have made some strange picks in recent years. I don't think Cox would be a target, but I don't say that with much confidence.
Next up is the Dolphins. My guess is that Ryan Tannehill will still be on the board and they will take him. If that doesn't happen, I'm not sure Cox is a likely target. We don't really have a good feel for what Miami intends to do on defense. If they do go for a defensive guy up front, I think they would be more likely to add a defensive end/linebacker-type edge rusher rather than an inside guy like Cox.
Carolina at number nine could be a definite landing spot. They added a pair of rookie defensive tackles last year. Neither player stood out. The question here is what Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott are looking for. Cox is a pass rusher. Do they prefer a run stuffer? The Panthers finished 21st or worse in each of the major run defense categories. They might prefer a big tackle like Michael Brockers, who they have looked at. Or maybe Rivera and McDermott love the thought of a player who can blow plays up in the backfield and make things happen. That would be Cox.
Buffalo has the 10th pick. They are loaded at defensive tackle with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams.
Next up is Kansas City. The Chiefs run a 3-4, but Cox can play end in that scheme. I think he would be a big upgrade on Glenn Dorsey, who really needs to be a tackle. The Chiefs love SEC players. In recent years they've taken Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and Eric Berry from the SEC in the first round. Cox might remind Scott Pioli of Richard Seymour, who was so key for the Patriots during their Super Bowl runs. Seymour could play end in the 3-4 or both tackle and end in the 4-3. He was disruptive from anywhere.
|Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He was a finalist for Philadelphia's Most Influential Blogger Award and is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com|
The 12th pick belongs to Seattle. Cox would make a ton of sense to the Seahawks to play the five-technique end in their scheme. They just re-signed Red Bryant so that takes away that spot. Maybe Pete Carroll would like him on the inside. I don't have a good feel for Seattle. I can see them going in a number of directions. Taking Cox is possible.
Arizona has the 13th pick. This is another team that is hard to read. They have several good hybrid defensive linemen in place so adding Cox doesn't make much sense, but the fact they have added such players in the past tells you they do have interest in guys with Cox's skill set. I think Arizona really needs help on offense. Hopefully that's where they'll go.
Dallas is the final hurdle for Cox before getting to the Eagles’ pick. Owner Jerry Jones has openly talked about improving the defensive line. Cox would play end in their 3-4 and he would give them a significant boost as a pass rusher. I think Dallas should have serious interest in drafting Cox. There are a lot of reports about them and Dontari Poe. He is the type of player Rob Ryan has been fascinated by for years. Nothing would make me happier than to see Dallas pass on Cox and take Poe.
As you can see, that is quite a gauntlet for Cox to have to get through in order for the Eagles to get him. It is possible, but not likely. There are just too many teams that could use a player like him. The question now becomes whether the Eagles should explore trading up to get him.
First, we don't know for a fact that the Eagles like Cox. I'm assuming that they do, because it seems like such an obvious match. Cox is a natural pass rusher. He plays a spot where the team needs a young guy. Jim Washburn loves pass rushers. Cox even said in a television interview that the Eagles would be his preferred landing spot because of the attacking style of defense.
If the Eagles do covet him, the next question is how much. I think the Eagles would give up a third round pick to get him for sure. That's a reasonable price for someone who could be a difference-maker up front.
I could see Buffalo being open to moving back. There isn't a great target for them at pick 10, unless they covet receiver Michael Floyd and he lasts that long. Moving back to 15 could help them. I don't know if just a third would be enough.
The Seahawks might be willing to drop back a few spots for a third. They have been linked to a number of different first round targets. They could be just as happy at 15 as at 12.
If the Eagles are willing to give up a second-round pick, they could move all the way up to Jacksonville's spot at seven. That's a steep price to pay, but might be worth it if you really think Cox can be special. I think he is tailor made for the Washburn system. If there is a coach who can get the most out of Cox, I think it would be Washburn. He'll put Cox in a role where he can attack upfield at all times. Washburn will perfect his technique so that Cox isn't just relying on speed and athleticism. Cox would become a polished pass rusher. Washburn is also a great motivator. He keeps his players fired up and hungry. Cox has a good motor already. You can see on the field that he's got a desire to make every play and win every battle. That's the kind of player that can thrive under Washburn.
General manager Howie Roseman has done a good job of knowing when and where players will go. Roseman talks on the phone a lot to feel out other teams and try to get an idea of what they might be up to. He will need to be as tuned in as ever this year. Does Cox slide down to 15? Do you have to jump up all the way to seven? Would moving up to pick 10 work? Heck, do you simply need to jump ahead of Dallas?
If Cox is the Eagles’ primary target, these are questions that Roseman will need to have answers for. I'll keep my fingers crossed that Cox moves through the gauntlet and works his way toward pick 15. If something does go wrong, the Eagles can always adjust plans and figure out how/when to get Cincinnati defensive tackle Derek Wolfe.