The Philadelphia Eagles came into the NFL draft with a chance to improve their defense. And that’s exactly what the Eagles did. They moved up three spots to grab Fletcher Cox with the 12th pick in the first round. Cox, a 6-foot-4, 298-pound defensive tackle from Mississippi State, was a player the Eagles really wanted.
He has a lot of athletic talent. He can play the run as well as the pass. He was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference as a junior, posting 56 tackles and five sacks with the Bulldogs. During his career, he had 114 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks in 36 games. Cox has great strength and quickness. He really moves well laterally, which should help in terms of making plays on the defensive line.
“We think that Fletcher Cox is a tremendous player,” said Andy Reid, Eagles head coach. “He has speed and athletic ability where he could play outside if needed. He gives us a little flexibility. He’s a very intelligent kid, and he’s young. He has the whole package.”
The Eagles had two picks in the second round. With the 46th pick, the Eagles chose linebacker Mychal Kendricks from California and defensive end Vinny Curry from Marshall with 59th selection. Kendricks had a great college career. He was named the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year. He completed his playing days at California with 258 tackles, 13.5 sacks and four interceptions.
“The one thing that really interests me there is we’re getting a phenomenal pass rusher on that side,” Reid said. “We’re getting someone who can really cover the tight end, and his pass cover skills are a strong part of his game.”
Curry finished his college career with 26 sacks, 49 tackles for a loss and 10 forced fumbles. He was chosen as the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. Curry grew up in Neptune, N.J. He’s a big Eagles fans. He was selected the day before Brian Dawkins officially retired as an Eagle. Curry is a big fan of Dawkins, too.
“I know most people say the draft is the best day of their life, but growing up an Eagles fan and being blessed to have the opportunity and see Brian Dawkins retire and give a speech here, this has to be the best day of my life here,” Curry said.
The Eagles took Nick Foles, a quarterback from Arizona in the third round. Foles, a 6-foot-6, 243-pounder, is the school’s all-time leading passer in yardage (10,011), touchdowns (67), attempts (1,369) and completions (933). He will learn how to run the offense from watching quarterback Michael Vick.
In the fourth round, the Eagles picked cornerback Brandon Boykin from Georgia. Boykin had 159 total tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, nine interceptions, 27 passes defended and two forced fumbles. In addition to cornerback, he returned kicks, punts and saw action at tailback.
Rounding out the draft, the Eagles picked offensive tackle Dennis Kelly from Purdue in the fifth round along with wide receiver Marvin McNutt from Iowa (194th pick) and offensive guard Brandon Washington from Miami (200th pick) in the sixth round and running back Bryce Brown from Kansas State in the seventh round.
NOTES: The Eagles have agreed to terms with several rookie free agents. The list includes Elvis Akpla, wide receiver, Montana State; Matt Camilli, long snapper, Texas El Paso; Chase Ford, tight end, Miami; Cliff Harris, cornerback, Oregon; Emil Igwenagu, fullback, Massachusetts; McKay Jacobson, wide receiver, BYU; Damaris Johnson, wide receiver, Tulsa; Aaron Pflugrad, wide receiver, Arizona State; Chris Polk, running back, Washington; Jeremy Stewart, fullback, Stanford; Phillip Thomas, free safety, Syracuse; Ryan Tydlacka, punter, Kentucky; Darnell Williams, wide receiver, Louisiana College.
The Philadelphia Eagles will open the preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Sept. 9 at Lincoln Financial Field. The kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. on 6ABC as the NFL season gets underway in Philadelphia.
Of course, the Eagles preseason matchup with the Steelers is secondary as the team deals with the passing of Garrett Reid, son of Eagles’ coach Andy, on Sunday.
On the field there are some key players to watch in this contest. Although the veterans don’t usually play very much in the preseason, it’s time to take a look at what they have been able to do in training camp so far.
Offensively, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will have plenty of eyes on him. Vick is coming off a lackluster year last season. He needs a big year for the Eagles to make a strong run and get to the Super Bowl.
In the first two or three possessions, Vick will be under the microscope in terms of his passing, leadership and how well the offense moves the ball. Vick remains one of the NFL’s most exciting players and can explode at any time. With that in mind, if and when he breaks the pocket will he slide or get out of bounds? He has to remain healthy.
Demetress Bell, Eagles offensive tackle, is replacing Jason Peters on the offensive line and is a player to keep your eyes on. Bell has to open those holes for running back LeSean McCoy. He has to provide good pass protection for Vick.
On defense, DeMeco Ryans will be playing middle linebacker. The Eagles need his leadership and experience at this position. Tackling will be the key thing to watch. A year ago, teams had a field day running on the Eagles. They needed help at middle linebacker. That’s why they went out and acquired Ryans from the Houston Texans in the offseason. He has to stop the run. He needs to establish himself right away.
In the secondary, cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha are two talented players who really struggled last season. They will be expected to make a lot of plays against the run as well as the pass.
Up front, the Eagles should give some playing time rookie defensive end Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Cox, a first round pick, is considered a playmaking defensive lineman. It’s time to find out how much he has learned in the training camp. Graham, a former first rounder, hopes to get on the field to show what he can do.
The Philadelphia Eagles will be selecting with the No. 15 pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. The draft will take place from April 26 to 28 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
The Eagles need to come out of this draft with some players to help bolster the team for the future. It looks as if the Eagles could get a defensive player with their first round pick.
There are some talented players where the Eagles will be drafting on the defensive side. The majority of these players are on the defensive line. However, if the Eagles front office and player personnel staff do their homework, they could come away with a player in the first round.
The players who could be available for the Eagles will be defensive tackles Michael Brockers, LSU; Dontari Poe, Memphis; Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State; defensive end Quinton Coples, North Carolina; linebacker Zach Brown, North Carolina and safety Mark Barron, Alabama. The Eagles should take a good look at these players.
Michael Brockers, Alabama:
Brockers is one of the biggest players at his position. He stands 6-foot-6 and 306 pounds. He’s not an easy guy to block. Brockers had 47 total and 23 unassisted tackles last season. He was third on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss. He had a career-high six total tackles, all solo in the Southeastern Conference championship game against Georgia. He also had two TFLs, one forced fumble and one pass breakup in that game.
Dontari Poe, Memphis:
Poe brings size and girth to the defensive line. He plays well against the run. The 6-foot-5, 350-pounder, had 33 total and 18 unassisted tackles. Poe was named second team All-Conference USA. He has good lateral movement. He can take up a lot of space.
Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State:
Cox doesn’t have great size. He’s 6-foot-4, 295-pounds. But what he has is great quickness. He can really move his feet. He knows how to explode off the ball. He had 56 total and 26 unassisted tackles. He had 14.5 tackles for loss. He also had five sacks. Cox can play against the run as well as the pass. He has the ability to get pressure on the quarterback.
Quinton Coples, North Carolina:
Coples has good height and range at defensive end. He stands 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds. He had 7.5 sacks this season. He had 55 total and 29 solo tackles. He was one of the best in college football at his position. Coples does a nice job of rushing the passer.
Zach Brown, North Carolina:
Brown is one of those playmaking linebackers. The Eagles could definitely use a player like him. He has great anticipation whether you’re talking about the run or the pass. He had 105 total tackles. He had 13.5 tackles for loss. Brown also had 5.5 sacks and three interceptions. The 6-foot-2, 230 pounder, has a lot of ability.
Mark Barron, Alabama:
Barron covered a lot of ground at safety. The 6-foot-2, 218-pounder, had 42 solo tackles, two interceptions, two interceptions, five pass breakups and one fumble recovery. He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. He also received All-America honors.