NFL

Fletcher Cox aims to be back for training camp after foot surgery

Fletcher Cox aims to be back for training camp after foot surgery

Fletcher Cox on Tuesday afternoon confirmed he had offseason foot surgery for an injury he suffered in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Saints in January. 

It doesn’t sound like Cox will do much this spring. 

“The goal is to be ready for training camp,” Cox said. “Just take it day by day. The doctors and everyone have a schedule and I’m following what they’re doing and everything is going good so far. Training camp is the goal.” 

You’ll remember in that loss to the Saints that Cox had to come out of the game, but kept coming back in after trips to the locker room. He said he would have preferred to stay out there, but the injury was too serious. 

Despite the injury, Cox still played 42 of 77 defensive snaps in that game. 

“My main thing was to finish that game,” he said. “For those guys out there, I always said, I’d give up a limb for those guys.”

Here are a few other nuggets from Cox’s brief press conference as the Eagles are back at the NovaCare Complex for their offseason program: 

While he hasn’t gotten a chance to really talk too much about football with Malik Jackson, Cox seems pretty happy to have the former Pro Bowler in Philly. Jackson will line up next to Cox along the starting defensive line. Cox mentioned that teams can’t choose to slide protection too much one way or the other. 

Another piece of this is that Jackson will likely stay out on the field for third downs instead of moving a defensive end inside. Cox admitted it will be a little different to have the bigger-bodied Jackson inside on those downs. 

Cox also said it’ll take some time for him and Jackson to learn to work together and it won’t just happen in training camp. They’ll need to develop rapport as the season goes on. But after a rotating cast in 2018, having Jackson should really help Cox’s game in 2019 and he was already and All-Pro. 

While Cox said Chris Long is an important piece to the Eagles’ locker room, he isn’t going to try to sway Long’s decision about retirement. He said the two are friends and he wouldn’t want to push him away by trying to force him to make a choice one way or the other. 

This offseason, the Eagles moved on from defensive line coach Chris Wilson, who also coached Cox in college. Cox clearly has admiration for Wilson, but thinks the transition to new DL coach and former assistant DL coach Phillip Daniels will be seamless. Daniels has been with the Eagles for three years as an assistant, so maybe a few drills change, but nothing too drastic. 

Cox understands why Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons has been compared to him. Obviously, they’re from the same school, but Simmons is a first-round talent in this draft class with a lot of ability. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL, but still might go in the first round. Cox has chatted with Simmons on occasion and thinks he has a bright future ahead of him. 

When asked about the changes to the defensive tackle position in the last few years, Cox definitely sees it. Guys like him and Aaron Donald have taken over the position. For many teams, interior defensive linemen aren’t just run-stuffers anymore. Those guys need to get after the quarterback. Cox said that the shift in offensive philosophy has led to the rise of interior pass rushers. 

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Eagles NFL draft options at No. 25: DT Ed Oliver

Eagles NFL draft options at No. 25: DT Ed Oliver

There’s no question that Ed Oliver has first-round talent, but there is a question about where in the first round he’ll go. 

Let’s be honest, though. If the Eagles want Oliver, it’s going to take a modest to significant trade up. But he might just be worth it. 

At 6-2, 287 pounds, Oliver doesn’t have prototypical size for an NFL defensive tackle, but he can flat out play. The comparisons to Aaron Donald aren’t perfect, but they’re unavoidable. And they make sense. 

Oliver might need to put on some more weight to last in the NFL, but you just can’t overlook his athleticism and ability to get after the passer from an interior defensive line spot. Interior line pressure has become more vital in the NFL in recent years and Oliver projects to be a great pass-rusher. 

There was that silly jacket incident at Houston and teams probably wanted to sit down and talk with Oliver to get to know him as a person. The tape speaks to what kind of player he is. He had good production at Houston and eye-popping ability. 

For a while, it looked like Oliver was set to take a tumble in the first round, but now that’s harder to imagine. If Oliver starts to make it past 10 and into the mid teens, the Eagles need to make a call to see how much it would take. 

Current roster at DT: The Eagles have Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson as starters. Their top backups are Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector. 

How he would fit: Oliver would come in and play a lot as a rookie as a rotational piece to complement Cox and Jackson, but would become a starter before long with a huge upside and Pro Bowl potential. 

Eagles history at DT in draft: The last time the Eagles used a first-round pick on a defensive tackle was in 2012, when they took Cox at No. 12. That has worked out. The Eagles have drafted six DTs in the first round: Cox, Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Corey Simon, Leonard Renfro, Jerome Brown. 

Since the 2012 draft, the Eagles have taken three interior defensive linemen: Bennie Logan in the third round back in 2013, Beau Allen in the seventh round in 2014 and Elijah Qualls in the sixth round in 2017. 

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Other options at 25 

With Josh Jacobs’ reported visit to Philly, a look at Eagles’ RB draft history

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USA Today Images

With Josh Jacobs’ reported visit to Philly, a look at Eagles’ RB draft history

The Eagles haven’t drafted a running back in the first round since Keith Byars out of Ohio State way back in 1986, but that isn’t stopping them from bringing in the near-consensus top running back in this year’s draft. 

According to NFL reporter Adam Caplan, Josh Jacobs is expected to be in Philadelphia for a visit next week. 

While this certainly doesn’t mean the Eagles are going to draft Jacobs, they do get just 30 official pre-draft visits and they’re using one on the one running back who might be a first-round pick later this month. Jacobs is considered to be the top running back in this class by most and has been a trendy mock draft selection for the Eagles at No. 25. 

But would the Eagles really take him in the first round? 

It’s not completely out of the question. While the franchise hasn’t traditionally valued the running back position this highly, it’s not like they have a top-15 pick this season. And Jacobs is really good. If Doug Pederson ever really wants a true three-down, never-leave-the-field running back, Jacobs is his guy. Still, it seems more likely the Eagles use their 25th overall pick on a different position and add a running back later. My money, based on recent history, would be on the Eagles’ taking a defensive lineman. 

But with the Jacobs’ visit on the schedule, it’s a good time to look back at the Eagles’ history with running backs in the draft since they took Byars with the No. 10 pick in 1986. Because even if the Eagles don’t use their first-round pick on a running back, they’re likely going to take one at some point this year. 

It’s also worth noting they took four (!) running backs in that 1986 draft. Times have certainly changed since then. 

From 1987 through 2018, the Eagles took 27 running backs from the second to the 12th round. Yes, drafts used to be longer than seven rounds. 

Here’s a breakdown: 

2nd round: 3
3rd round: 5
4th round: 3
5th round: 2
6th round: 3
7th or later: 11

And here’s the complete list and the round in which they were selected: 

2017: Donnel Pumphrey (4th round) 
2016: Wendell Smallwood (5th round) 
2012: Bryce Brown (7th round) 
2011: Dion Lewis (5th round) 
2011: Stanley Havili (7th round) 
2010: Charles Scott (6th round) 
2009: LeSean McCoy (2nd round) 
2007: Tony Hunt (3rd round) 
2007: Nate Ilaoa (7th round) 
2005: Ryan Moats (3rd round) 
2004: Bruce Perry (7th round) 
2002: Brian Westbrook (3rd round) 
2001: Correll Buckhalter (4th round
2000: Thomas Hamner (6th round) 
1997: Duce Staley (3rd round) 
1995: Kevin Bouie (7th round) 
1994: Charlie Garner (2nd round) 
1994: Mark Montgomery (7th round) 
1992: Siran Stacy (2nd round) 
1992: Tony Brooks (4th round) 
1991: Jame Joseph (7th round) 
1991: Chuck Weatherspoon (9th round) 
1990: Judd Garrett (12th round) 
1989: Robert Drummond (3rd round)
1989: Heath Sherman (6th round) 
1988: David Smith (8th round) 
1987: Bobby Morse (12th round) 

There are some hits there and some misses. Of the 27, seven have never played a snap in the NFL. The highest pick among those seven is Pumphrey, whom the Eagles actually moved up to take in the fourth round in 2017. There’s still an outside chance Pumphrey could one day play in the league; he’s still just 24, but things haven’t gone well. 

The five players who got over 3,000 rushing yards in their careers were all drafted in the third round or higher: 

McCoy: 10,606 (and counting)
Garner: 7,097
Westbrook: 6,335
Staley: 5,785
Byars: 3,109

But drafting a player in the top three rounds, certainly doesn’t guarantee success either. The Eagles have had some notable third-round mistakes like Tony Hunt, Robert Drummond and Ryan Moats. 

The most productive players (rushing yards) drafted in the fourth round or later: 

Buckhalter: 2,944
Sherman: 2,130
Lewis: 2,101 (and counting) 
Brown: 1,076
Smallwood: 850 (and counting)

This is all obviously an inexact science, but the Eagles have found differing levels of value throughout the draft. It’s certainly no coincidence that they haven’t drafted a running back in the first round for decades. But if the Eagles think Jacobs is the best player available at 25, maybe they take him. I wouldn’t bet on it, but crazier things have happened. Or maybe they’re preparing for a trade-back scenario; if they want Jacobs and think they could take him somewhere in the second round, that could be on the table too. Or a trade up from 53 if Jacobs makes it into the second round. 

At least they’re taking a closer look and keeping themselves open to the possibility. 

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