Eagles Wake-Up Call: Checking In On Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox has learned quickly to get used to change.

He’s played 15 games as a pro and is already on his third defensive line coach, third defensive coordinator and second head coach.

Cox is surrounded by several new teammates as well.

“It’s different,” he said during last week’s mini-camp. “The first day I came back, no Cullen [Jenkins], no Darryl Tapp, no Mike P. [Patterson], none of those guys. So it felt kind of weird, but you’ve got to understand this is a business and things happen.”

2012 was a year full of disappointments for the Eagles, but Cox was not one of them. He looked very much worthy of being a first-round pick, notching seven tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and 24 hurries. If Cox is able to build on that foundation, the future is bright, and it will involve trips to the Pro Bowl.

“I think I played pretty good,” he said. “I know I’ve got a long way to go to be a great player in this league. Just going back, looking at the guys that are great in this league and going back and evaluating myself, I know I’ve got a long way to go.”

Cox was hesitant to provide any hints about the Eagles’ defensive scheme and his new role. Last year, he played defensive tackle almost exclusively and was tasked with aggressively trying to charge into the backfield on every snap. Now, he figures to make the transition to defensive end in a 3-4.

“Coaches got me doing so much, all guys doing so many different things,” Cox said. “We talked about nothing is written down right now.”

When the Eagles drafted Cox last year, they knew a move to a 3-4 might be coming. His versatility was part of what made Cox so attractive to Howie Roseman and Andy Reid.

We’re only in April, and the Eagles still have to fill out their roster in this week’s draft. If they move to more of a 4-3 under, Cox would likely play the 3-technique, and expectations will be for him to develop into a big-time pass rusher.

As for the change at the top, Cox said he’s upbeat about the start of the Chip Kelly era.

“It’s real different,” he said. “It reminds me of a year ago when I was in college, practice-wise, how fast everything goes, the tempo of practice. Just having fun out here and enjoying it.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

T-Mac takes a look at how things have changed from Mel Kiper Jr.’s first mock in January to now.

The latest draft buzz takes a look at Darrelle Revis, EJ Manuel and Matt Scott.

An Eagles-related look at Mike Mayock’s top-100 list.

Are the Falcons looking to trade up?

Manuel discusses his visit to Philly in his latest draft diary.

Casey Matthews talks about the similarities between what Kelly did at Oregon and what he’s doing in Philadelphia.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Andy Benoit of Football Outsiders takes a look at the state of the Eagles:

In Kelly’s system, the quarterback must be mobile. That’s non-negotiable, and it’s the reason why Foles will not win the starting job here. The question is whether Vick can handle the reins. He’s not as explosive as he once was, but he obviously remains one of the most mobile signal-callers in the game. Simply being able to run around is not enough, though. Kelly’s quarterback must make multiple reads on the move and disciplined decisions. Sound mechanics are usually needed to facilitate this. There’s no sense debating whether Vick can perform this role. His past three years as the starter in Philly, as well as his body of work before that, provide a clear answer: no –- not overall, anyway. Sometimes, Vick can thrive in Kelly’s system. More often than not, he’ll be erratic or injured.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com wonders whether the Eagles could take a look at LSU pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo:

Mingo can cover. He can rush the passer. I think he’s underrated as a run defender. Mingo needs to add some bulk and he must get stronger, but he’s not a finesse player. He will fire into blockers and fight to  hold his ground or to push them backward. He uses his hands well and isn’t strictly a “run-around” guy. Some speed rushers are allergic to contact. Not Mingo.

COMING UP

Three days away from the Eagles being on the clock. Plenty to get to.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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