Earlier today, ESPN.com published an article in which they had reporters that cover each team in the NFC East answer what appears to be an obvious question, “who is the rising star in this division?” While many would go with the obvious answer in New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and rightfully so, Giants’ reporter Dan Graziano went the unconventional route.
Graziano mentioned Beckham’s stellar rookie season as well as then Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray‘s breakout season in 2014 but notes that both are already considered “stars” by many already. That led Graziano to go on the other side of the ball and select Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox as his “rising star” in the NFC East. Here’s exactly what he had to say about Cox:
"So in the spirit of this question, my pick is Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox, who plays every snap at a grueling position and dominates in thankless work against the run. Cox can also help in the pass rush, though he’s not often asked to. Opposing coaches already know Cox is a defensive player around whom they must devise a game plan. He doesn’t play the highest-profile position, but he’s the best player on the Eagles’ defense and getting better."
It’s nice to see someone not affiliated with or that covers the Eagles recognize Cox. He doesn’t put up flashy numbers but he’s a dominant player on the field and as Graziano points out, someone that opposing teams must game plan for. Cox was snubbed following this past season as he wasn’t elected to the Pro Bowl.
Cox also wasn’t named to NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2015” despite being recognized as one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. In fact, I mentioned just how good Cox played in 2014 according to the site, in a post last month:
"In fact, although Cox didn’t sack the quarterback much, he ranked second behind only Defensive Player of the Year, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt in quarterback hurries from the 3-4 defensive end position, according to Pro Football Focus. Watt finished the season with a ridiculous 54 quarterback hurries but Cox finished with 39 quarterback hurries, ahead of players such as Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Calais Campbell."
Those numbers do not lie, Cox is legitimately one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. Yet what’s scary is that he’s just 24-years old and only improving. The Eagles smartly exercised the fifth-year option on Cox, keeping him around for the next two seasons in midnight green.
Considering the Eagles possess the second youngest front seven in the NFL, according to Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice, it’s key to keep the unit together for the long run. Cox is a key building block for the Eagles moving forward and it’ll be important to keep him in the City of Brotherly Love for as long as possible. Luckily for the Eagles, they get to sit back and enjoy having him around for at least the next two seasons.
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