Philadelphia Eagles 2020 training camp preview: DT Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was his usual self in 2019

Ever since the Philadelphia Eagles selected Fletcher Cox in the 2012 NFL Draft, they haven’t had to worry about one of their defensive tackle spots. When teams choose players in the first round of the draft, they do it with the intention of plugging them in, hopefully, for the next ten years. Unfortunately, more often than not, it doesn’t end up working out that way, it did in this case, and the “Birds” got themselves a franchise defensive tackle in Cox.

The Eagles know a good defensive lineman when they see one. In the last twenty years, they have signed or draft players that have an immediate impact. From Jevon Kearse to Timmy Jernigan, they always tried to beef up their defensive line as much as they can. Cox is currently the second longest-tenured one, behind only Brandon Graham, and he’s, without question, Philly’s most productive defensive lineman that has also had the most impact over the course of the last few seasons.

From the very beginning, the Eagles have never hidden how high they are on Cox. First, they moved up three spots to select him with the 12th-overall selection eight years ago. Later, in 2016 to be exact, they gave him a six-year $102.6 million contract that ensured he could continue to wreak havoc in the trenches for years to come. Everybody outside of opposing offensive linemen celebrated the agreement.

2020 should bring more of the same for the Philadelphia Eagles and Fletcher Cox

Cox has been a beast at the line of scrimmage, but he doesn’t get enough fan recognition outside of Philadelphia. The fact that he plays the defensive tackle position doesn’t help matters. A closer examination of his body of work shows a high-motor individual that makes plays even though his primary function is to eat up blocks and make his teammates that play defensive end and linebacker look good.

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Pro Football Focus ranked Cox as fifth best interior lineman in 2019. Only Aaron Donald, Cameron Heyward, Grady Jackson and Calais Campbell graded higher on their list, and even then, Donald is the only one that has generated more quarterback pressures than the 151 Cox has generated over the past two years. Cox’s statistical output in 2018 is going to be hard to replicate, but he wasn’t a slouch last season. In total, he had tallied four sacks, 42 hurries, and ten additional hits on the signal-caller. He also forced three fumbles and received an 89.5 overall grade from PFF.

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For those that don’t think stats are enough and believe accolades are an indicator of a player’s success, Cox has those too. Following every season from 2015 to 2019, he’s been invited to the Pro Bowl. He also received Second-team All-Pro honors three separated times and a First-team nod back in 2018, when he had an astonishing 95 pressures and finished the season with a career-high 11 sacks.

If that wasn’t enough, he was also part of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade team. There isn’t a single offensive guard in the league that looks at the “Birds” on their team’s schedule and says “Yes! we get to take on Cox this week”! This season, it would be great to see Cox play the way he did in 2018, but even if he doesn’t, he should still be a big factor on the field

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He’s done it since 2012, and he hasn’t lost any steam or taken a year off. There’s no reason to believe the decline will begin in 2020. This is still the best player on this Eagles roster.