By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Fletcher Cox got exactly what he wanted. So did the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cox, the former Mississippi State defensive tackle, was selected with the 12th overall pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday in New York City. Philadelphia swung a trade with Seattle to move up three spots and nab Cox, who was reportedly being eyed by St. Louis at No. 14.
Cox, a Yazoo City native, told reporters on a conference call that Philadelphia was the best fit for him. He said he looked forward to playing in defensive line coach Jim Washburn’s “wide nine” scheme.
“I was real excited when (head coach) Andy Reid told me I was going to be an Eagle,” Cox said. “This is where I wanted to go, to play for Coach Washburn.”
The 6-foot-4, 298-pound Cox left MSU after his junior season, in which he recorded 56 tackles, 141/2 tackles-for-loss, five sacks and earned first-team All-SEC honors. As he pondered going pro, he spoke with MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson, who told Cox he was ready to play at the next level.
“Knowing that you’re one of the top players in the Southeastern Conference, you know you’re probably going to be one of the top players taken in the draft. I knew he would have that option at the end of the season,” Wilson said.
Cox is the highest MSU draftee since running back Michael Haddix went eighth overall in 1983 – to Philadelphia. He’s the 10th Bulldog to be taken in the first round.
Many analysts projected him as a possible top-10 pick, in particular Carolina at No. 9. But the Panthers took Boston College LB Luke Kuechly. Shortly after that happened, the Eagles gave up a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick to Seattle to move up.
Cox’s stock rose considerably once he declared and began pre-draft workouts. His 4.79-second 40-yard dash was the fastest among defensive tackles at the NFL Combine.
“Cox took my breath away with some of the things he did,” Washburn told reporters.
One defensive lineman was taken ahead of Cox: Dontari Poe of Memphis, 11th to Kansas City. Washburn said Philadelphia was on Cox very early, and the coach spent an entire day with Cox on the MSU campus to get to know him.
Cox was suspended for the 2011 season opener due to an unspecified violation of team rules and took a few games to really get cranked up. Once he did, he was a terror to opposing offensive linemen.
“Fletcher has always been a guy who played hard, he’s always been a guy who’s very instinctive,” Wilson said. “But the biggest thing you notice is how he prepares week in and week out.”
Cox rejoins former MSU teammate Jamar Chaney, a linebacker who was drafted by Philadelphia in the seventh round two years ago.