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Eagles rightfully pounce on DT Cox

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By Eric Edholm

The Eagles’ biggest problems last season were losing the turnover battle, maintaining leads and stopping the run. Their first-round pick should help solve the latter two.

Fletcher Cox probably should have been a top-eight pick. A flurry of trades for defensive backs and offensive skill-position players left Cox tumbling, and the Eagles smelled blood in the water. When the Rams moved from pick No. 6 down to 14, one spot ahead of the Eagles, they put themselves in a position of weakness. The Eagles were more than happy to ship fourth- and sixth-round picks — they came into the draft with 10 choices and still have an extra second-rounder to their name — to the Seahawks to slide up the three spots, ahead of the DT-needy Rams.

Cox is the prototypical Andy Reid pick. He loves his defensive linemen, and he found one who can thrive under DL coach Jim Washburn.

Funny story: When Dontari Poe visited the Eagles’ complex in March, a few beat writers were milling around. Washburn decided to pull a funny one on some of them. “Hey, you guys know Fletcher Cox, right?” he said, pointing to Poe. Apparently a few of the writers tweeted out this misinformation.

What’s not a ruse is that Cox might be the quickest interior lineman the Eagles have had under Reid. He’ll push Mike Patterson and help form a terrific top three along with Cullen Jenkins. The beauty, too, Reid said, is that Cox can play outside. God forbid if Brandon Graham ever gets healthy — you throw in Jason Babin and Trent Cole, and it’s murderer’s row up front.

The Eagles had to get stronger up the middle. Trading for MLB DeMeco Ryans? Check. Trading up for Cox in the draft? Double check. Now you won’t see that (much-maligned) wide-9 alignment allowing such large gaps, and when runners do get through, Ryans will be clean and blocker-free enough to make the stop.

With the added depth up front, the Eagles should be a better pass-rushing team and they can keep that heat cranking in the fourth quarter, which they failed to do a season ago.

In a DL draft class full of major bust potential, the Eagles appear to have landed a safe, sound choice with terrific athleticism, good balance, versatility and top-shelf college production against SEC competition.

Tell me what’s not to like with this pick.

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