Fletcher Cox has had a pretty successful six years in the NFL so far. From the time he was drafted in the first round in 2012, he’s become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. 

He’s a perennial Pro Bowler, he cashed in on a $100 million contract and he won a Super Bowl. 

What’s the next box to check? 

“The next box for me, and I’m not scared to say, I’ve had multiple Pro Bowls, I won the Pro Bowl,” Cox said. “The next thing for me is to be Defensive Player of the Year. That’s my thing. I’ve been working towards that.”

The last Eagles player — and only Eagles player — to win Defensive Player of the Year was Reggie White way back in 1987. 

It’s a lofty goal, but it’s not impossible. Just last year, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald won the award. In 2014 and 2015, the award was taken by J.J. Watt, who is basically an interior rusher too. The last seven DPOY awards have gone to linemen or linebackers. 

If Cox wants to win it, he’s going to need an even bigger season. While he was incredibly disruptive in 2017, he had just 5½ sacks. Donald had 11 last year, Khalil Mack had 11 in 2016 and Watt averaged 19½ in his three DPOY seasons. 

“I think the most important thing is for me to keep myself in shape,” Cox said. “Once I keep myself in shape and keep myself in the same routine, maybe switch a few things up but keep myself in the same routine. It makes me a better player, makes me a better person and a better teammate. I share that with a lot of young guys that come in there.”


Cox, 27, wants to focus on some technique issues he noticed from last year. He didn’t get into specifics but said that’s the purpose of the offseason.  

Even if Cox never wins a DPOY award, he won’t walk away from the game without a really cool accolade. His hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi, made sure of it. After Cox became a Super Bowl champion, his hometown named its longest street after him. 

If you ever find yourself in Yazoo City, you might end up driving down Fletcher Cox Road. It took the place of River Road, which makes sense. There are rivers everywhere; there are far fewer players like Fletcher Cox. 

So maybe the top honor for a defensive player in the NFL isn’t out of the question.