‘They Can Be Great’
Birds Vet DT Cox Ready To Mentor Carter, Young D-Linemen
First-round picks are typically subjected to heightened expectations and inevitable burdens.
Fletcher Cox navigated through both through 11 seasons, making the veteran Eagles defensive tackle an ideal mentor for his 2023 blue-chip linemate Jalen Carter, who was drafted ninth overall in April.
“I’ve been in his position,” recalled Cox, a 2012 first-round pick, after practice Wednesday. “Drafted in the first round, you expect a lot. But the biggest thing is to get in and learn.
“Learn the defense, learn how to practice as a pro. Learning just the new environment of being around. Having to deal with a lot of media. But overall, he’s gonna be a really good player for us.”
Selected 12th overall out of Mississippi State, Cox hit the ground running in his first season amid a veteran-laden defensive line, totaling 5 1/2 sacks, eight tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits over 15 games (9 starts).
While each first-year player faces a unique circumstance – which sometimes impedes their pathway to playing time – Carter, like Cox more than a decade ago, conceivably has an opportunity to seize critical snaps.
At the dawn of training camp, it’s been Carter who has yielded heaps of praise for his power, explosion, and expected impact.
Jordan Davis, a 2022 first-round pick and also an interior defensive lineman, also looms large and carries considerable intrigue of his own.
No doubt this pair represents the future at the position in Philadelphia.
That’s not to say Cox, who has accrued 65 career sacks and 156 quarterback hits along with 150 tackles for loss across 173 games, won’t factor in prominently.
Early in free agency, Cox, 32, reportedly resisted a more lucrative contract from the New York Jets to remain in Philadelphia for another season, presumably for a final shot at corralling the Lombardi Trophy and finishing what he helped start 12 years ago.
The four-time All-Pro figures to be further aided by the influx of youth surrounding him – including Davis, Carter, and Milton Williams – enabling him to shoulder less workload to maximize his effectiveness.
Already etched in Eagles lore, Cox could further enhance his legacy by capitalizing on the stockpile of talent around him and reduced snaps and finishing with another high sack total.
His seven last year were the third-most of his career in a season despite him playing 65 percent of defensive snaps, his lowest percentage since his rookie season.
But as he sat on the podium at the conclusion of practice Wednesday, the future Eagles Hall of Famer didn’t mince words about what helped him along as a rookie and how he intends to pay that guidance forward.
“I had good guys around me,” Cox said. “Cullen Jenkins, Trent Cole, Darryl Tapp, all those guys. They were there for me, and that’s the biggest thing for me.
“I had leadership. And that’s the thing I try to do for these young guys now – be a leader for them and let them know that they can be great.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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