The Philadelphia Eagles have been projected by most analysts to select a linebacker in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. But if many of the top linebackers go off the board early, the Eagles could address their biggest weakness another way while looking in a separate direction with their first round selection.
In Mel Kiper's latest 2012 NFL Mock Draft, the ESPN analyst has the Eagles choosing defensive tackle Fletcher Cox from Mississippi State with the No. 15 pick.
No team was softer up the middle than Philly in 2011, and while linebacker is a bigger need, it wouldn't be a very good value here if the board lines up like this. In Cox, you get a player who should be great in the 3-4, a powerful bull-rusher who can collapse the pocket, but also a guy who does a good job against the run and plays with a really high motor. I have wide receiver as another potential need, but the Philly defense needs to be a bigger priority in the draft. The Eagles can target a linebacker in the next round.
Cox is rated No. 69 among Mocking The Draft's Top 100 NFL Draft Prospects and No. 31 on the National Football Post's NFL Draft Big Board, so he could be a reach in the middle of the first round. The National Football Post writes that Cox is "raw" and could use to lower his pad level, but his versatility is a major asset.
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