Despite dealing with a stomach bug Friday morning, Eagles' first-round draft pick Fletcher Cox was able to make it to his debut press conference today after landing with the team he had hoped would pick him.
"It's been crazy. I just tried not to worry myself with it and I just let it happen. I was blessed enough to come where I wanted to come," said Cox, the 12th-overall pick.
Like any rookie, Cox knows he'll have to adjust to the speed of the game in the NFL while also learning a new playbook. He's excited to get to work under the tutelage of head coach Andy Reid and defensive line coach Jim Washburn.
While some of the players drafted ahead of Cox might start right away, Cox knows he'll be working in with a talented defensive tackle rotation that already includes Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri.
"It's all about competition," Cox said. "I'm looking forward to competing against everybody on the defense."
With the number of outstanding quarterbacks in the NFC East, including Robert Griffin III, the Redskins' first-round pick this year, Cox knows how important the role he and his fellow defensive linemen play. He's thrilled to play in Washburn's scheme that encourages linemen to get after the quarterback.
Reid praised Cox's character and maturity, and said people around the league and those close to him - including linebacker Jamar Chaney, Cox's former teammate at Mississippi State - spoke highly of his work ethic and intelligence.
"Even though he's young, he's mature and a smart, smart guy," Reid said. "This is just another piece of that puzzle that's going to allow us to be a great football team."
Cox said when he worked out with Washburn in Starkville, Miss. before the draft, the two men bonded over topics beyond football.
"We sat around and talked not just about football, but about life," Cox said.
Washburn's appreciation for Cox as a player was evident from the start of the private workout. Cox said Washburn worked him out for about 20 minutes before he had seen enough.
"I was ready for more, but he kind of eased off me," Cox said. "So we just stayed and talked a little bit more."
Cox, a native of Yazoo City, Miss., a town of only 11,000 people, knows that moving to a city of 1.5 million people will be a challenge, but he's thankful to have Chaney on board to show him the ropes.
"If he's able to stay healthy, he's going to be a good player, a Pro Bowl player," Chaney said.
When he was a child, Cox had his eye on becoming a professional on the baseball diamond. He played first base and believes he could have become a pro had he not switched his focus to football.
When his mother, Melissa, finally allowed him to start playing football, Cox quickly realized he had potential to go on to great things in the sport.
"My 8th grade year, my mom finally let me play after the coaches begged her," Cox said. "I told her, 'Mom, I think I can be real good at this one day.'"
By 10th grade, as he caught onto the nuances of the game, he said his coaches told him he could make it to the NFL one day.
"I believed it and I kept that edge and a big chip on my shoulder to keep working hard," he said.
Despite being recruited by national football powers Alabama, Louisiana State, Auburn and Tennessee, Cox chose to stay close to home by attending Mississippi State, saying he felt more comfortable staying in state. Now, he will encounter a whole new world in Philadelphia.
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