NFL Draft: Eagles select DT Fletcher Cox of Mississippi St

Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox poses for photographs after being selected as the 12th pick overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall, Thursday, April 26, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

April 26, 2012 9:50:23 PM PDT
When Fletcher Cox dropped out of the top 10, the Philadelphia Eagles couldn't wait any longer.

The Eagles jumped up three spots to select the Mississippi State defensive tackle with the No. 12 pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

"We thought he would be a top six or seven pick," coach Andy Reid said. "When he started to fall, we got excited about that. We had a price on how much we were willing to spend. Things were crazy. It worked out."

Cox, listed at 6-foot-4, 298 pounds, is a speedy, versatile lineman who can play inside or outside. He should fit right into Philadelphia's linemen rotation and bolster a run defense that allowed 142.3 yards per game last season.

Veterans Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson are the starting tackles, but defensive line coach Jim Washburn rotates his linemen constantly so Cox is expected to contribute immediately.

"He'll be asked to play four, five plays and then the next guy comes in," Reid said. "He's one of those rare guys that size who can run as fast as he can."

Cox was named to the All-SEC first team after he collected 56 tackles and five sacks last season. He played three seasons at Mississippi State and had 114 tackles, including 24½ for a loss, 8½ sacks and blocked five kicks.

The Eagles sent their first-round pick (15th), a fourth (114th) and a sixth (172) to Seattle to get Cox.

"I was real excited," Cox said. "It's a defensive scheme I would like to play in and it'll be a pleasure to play under coach Washburn."

This is the fifth time in Reid's 14 seasons as head coach that Philadelphia chose a defensive lineman in the first round and the third time they took a tackle. The Eagles selected Mike Patterson (31st) and Brodrick Bunkley (14th) in consecutive years in 2005-06, and took Corey Simon at No. 6 in 2000.

"You win games up front whether it's the offensive or defensive line," Reid said. "If you can perform up front, you make everybody else better."

The Eagles are coming off a disappointing 8-8 season that began with Super Bowl aspirations. Injuries and a mediocre defense were the biggest problems. They already improved a weak linebacker corps by trading for two-time Pro Bowl pick DeMeco Ryans. Now they've added a potential impact player to help disrupt quarterbacks.

"I'm a guy with a great attitude, hard-working who loves to compete," Cox said. "I play at 100 miles per hour. That's what I like to do."

Reid was sold on Cox after Washburn spent a day with him in Starkville, Miss.

"He was so quick to learn," Reid said. "You're looking at a kid who is talented, who's intelligent and his athletic ability jumped out at you."

Colts take Stanford QB Andrew Luck to open draft

Six weeks after saying goodbye to Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts handed Andrew Luck a blue and white jersey and the daunting task of leading a rebuilding team as its quarterback for the next decade.

Luck couldn't have chosen a tougher act to follow, but many believe he is the most NFL-ready passer to enter the league since Manning went No. 1 overall in 1998. All Manning did was win an unprecedented four MVP awards and a Super Bowl for Indy.

"You don't really replace a guy like that," Luck said. "You can't. You just try to do the best you can. Obviously, he was my hero growing up."

The Stanford quarterback was told by the Colts last week that Commissioner Roger Goodell would announce his name first Thursday night. He got the nod over Baylor QB Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy who was taken second overall by the Washington Redskins..

After being loudly booed at the outset, Goodell told a raucous crowd at Radio City Music Hall that "the season begins tonight, so let's kick if off." Then he did, congratulating Luck while the crowd chanted "RG3, RG3."

Luck left the stage and slapped hands with some fans in Colts shirts and headed to the interview room.

To get Griffin, Washington dealt a second-round pick this year and its first-rounders in 2013 and '14 to St. Louis to move up four spots

Dressed in a light blue suit that didn't quite mesh with Redskins burgundy and gold, Griffin had some trouble getting the team hat over his braids and ended up wearing it just a tad crooked while he flashed big smiles for photos.

Less than an hour before Goodell began the draft, Cleveland and Minnesota pulled off another trade in what would become a virtual swap shop. The Browns moved up just one spot, from fourth to third, to ensure getting running back Trent Richardson of national champion Alabama. Minnesota received picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds and still was in position to get one of the elite prospects in this draft.

Like Griffin, Richardson was treated with lusty cheers from the crowd. Unlike Griffin, he had less trouble placing the Cleveland hat over his impressive dreads.

Minnesota then took Southern California offensive tackle Matt Kalil, whom the Vikings were expected to take at No. 3 anyway.

Luck's good fortune put him in a similar position to Stanford predecessors Jim Plunkett, who won two Super Bowls for the Raiders, and John Elway, who led Denver to two NFL titles. He is the fourth consecutive quarterback chosen first and 12th in the last 15 years, dating back to Manning.

Elway now runs the Broncos and recently signed Manning as a free agent after Manning missed all of last season following neck surgery.

Indianapolis was the only team in the first seven picks to stay put.

After Minnesota took Kalil, Jacksonville jumped up two spots, trading with Florida neighbor Tampa Bay to get Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, the top receiver in this crop.

"It just goes to show you that anything can happen," Blackmon said, referring to the Jaguars going after him.

St. Louis must have liked dealing down because the Rams did it again, trading with Dallas, which was 14th overall. The Cowboys selected LSU's Morris Claiborne, the top cornerback, adding him to free agent signing Brandon Carr and shoring up what was a Swiss cheese secondary.

St. Louis got a second-rounder in the deal.

Tampa Bay finished off a wild 30 minutes of bartering by grabbing Alabama safety Mark Barron seventh overall.

A third quarterback went eighth where Miami - can you believe it? - stayed put. The Dolphins took Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill, who played wide receiver for most of his time in college. His coach at A&M, Mike Sherman, is the Dolphins offensive coordinator.