https://www.theoceanac.com/PHILADELPHIA – By now you know the Eagles reworked Fletcher Cox’s overleveraged deal and took on significant dead cap space to reset the deal and put one of the greatest defensive players in franchise history on a year-to-year plan moving forward.
Cox will turn 32 in December just as the 2022 regular season will be winding down for the Eagles and if the upcoming campaign does prove to be the swan song for the 2012 first-round pick in Philadelphia, the hope is that Cox is able to impart every trick of the trade he’s picked up over the past decade en route six Pro Bowls and bestow it upon Jordan Davis.
Cox, of course, was the 12th overall pick when he came out of Mississippi State and Davis was No. 13 back in April out of Georgia. Both are southern-born and southern-fed with Cox, a Yazoo City, Miss. native, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 310 pounds while Davis, a Charlotte product, trumps that at 6-6 and 336 at the tender age of 22.
While both are defensive tackles by trade Ciox is best suited as a three-technique with the ability to toggle between 5 and 4i while Davis is a natural nose tackle who has the traits to develop into much more. In a pinch, Cox could and has handled zero- or one technique and Davis could persevere in Cox’s role so the cross-training will be particularly important to Davis as the former Bulldogs star hopes to live up to his enormous potential.
“I want to be able to share a lot of information with Jordan,” Cox said when popping his head into OTAs last week, “and I know he’ll get it.”
Having already lived through the jump from SEC football to the NFL, Cox understands that there will be a learning curve, something former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz used to describe as start-up costs for younger players.
“I know it’s a lot for him. He’s a rookie. I’ve been in that same position before when guys have kind of taken me under their arms and kind of led the way.”
In Cox’s mind, it’s time to pay that debt forward whether it’s with Davis or promising second-year player Milton Williams.
“I’m excited about Jordan and we converse all the time and talk about football and, more importantly, about life,” said Cox. “About how have things been lately with you. I’m excited about him to see him go in training camp.”
It’s not always a natural thing for aging players to want to mentor their potential successors but the Eagles are lucky enough to have a number of veteran players who believe it’s part of the natural evolution of football whether it’s Cox with the young players in his room, Jason Kelce with Cam Jurgens or Anthony Harris with Marcus Epps.
Players like that also have the cachet to garner the attention of the younger prospects better than the coaches at times.
“[Fletcher is] one of those guys that I look up to,” Davis said. “And it’s crazy to say that I’m playing next to him. Regardless, he’s always coaching me up. I feel that he wants me to be the best player I can be for the betterment of the team.”
Even Cox’s deference to showing up at times in the spring for work he probably doesn’t need is leadership by example and an attempt to show younger players feeling their way how to be a professionals.
“I always pop my head in. That’s just a sign of respect and a sign of being professional,” said Cox. “You want that to carry on. You always want to come in. You want the organization have the trust in you that you’re working out, that you’re in shape, that you’re showing up in shape and not just sitting at home on the couch. It’s just stuff I’ve been the last few years. I’m always going to pop in, show my face, work hard, get around the guys again and obviously now getting ready for training camp.”
With Davis, Cox already sees that process manifesting itself.
“It’s great. I’ve talked to him, picked his brain. The little time that I have been here with him, I’ve been on him a little bit about just how to be a professional,” Cox said. “Just trying to teach him how to be a pro, how to practice, how to handle certain situations.
And Tracy Rocker’s DT room looks just as good on paper, perhaps one of the deepest parts of the 2022 Eagles with Cox, Javon Hargrave, Jordan Davis, and Williams alongside developmental players like Marlon Tuipulotu, Noah Elliss, Marvin Wilson, and Renell Wren.
“The way that we rotate, especially around here, it’s built where there’s not a drop-off,” Cox said. “There’s 1A and there’s 1B. There’s not a drop-off. There’s no second group. There’s no second string. Since I’ve been here, there really no second string. There’s never a drop-off. You expect the guys behind you to play up to the level you’re playing at and with the sense of urgency you’re playing with.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for JAKIB Sports.