Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 4/27/12

PHILADELPHIA -- For all their defensive flaws last season, the Eagles did one thing better than any other team in the league - rush the passer.

They led the league with 50 sacks, and they took a giant step toward improving on that number Thursday when they selected Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

The Eagles traded up from the 15th spot in the first round to the 12th and grabbed Cox, who was regarded as the top-rated defensive tackle in the draft by NFLDraftScout.com. The 6-4, 294-pounder ran a 4.79-second 40-yard dash and a 1.63 10-yard split at the combine in February, unheard of for someone his size. He gives Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn a player with the versatility and athleticism to play both inside or outside in all of his packages.

"When God made him, he made him to be in this system right here," Washburn said, referring to the wide-nine his front four plays. "He's a good one and I'm excited about him. I'm not going to coach forever, and if this is my last big-time project here, this would be fun."

The fact that the Eagles even were able to get their hands on Cox was a bit of a surprise. He was one of the players they had targeted in the first round going into the draft, but they didn't think he would slip far enough for them to trade up and get him.

"We had ourselves honed in on what we were willing to spend (to trade up), and so we weren't going to get quite as elaborate as some did," head coach Andy Reid said of a first round that featured eight draft-day trades. "We had other people there that we also liked if this didn't work out."

When the Carolina Panthers opted for Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly over Cox with the ninth pick, though, Reid realized it probably was going to work out. Buffalo took South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore with the 10th pick, and the Chiefs, who play a 3-4 defense, opted for 345-pound nose tackle Dontari Poe with the 11th pick, which opened the door for the Eagles to swap places with Seattle and get Cox. The Eagles gave up fourth- and sixth-round picks to move up the three spots.

"I think with the veteran leadership that we have inside (with tackles Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson), I think that's going to be a positive," Reid said. "And the way Wash rotates his line with both ends and tackles, I think that's a positive. He's going to be asked to play four or five plays in a row and then come out. He has the speed and athletic ability to play outside if needed. He gives us a little flexibility."

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