The Eagles traded up in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft to select Fletcher Cox. But for a moment, the team considered dealing that selection and not bringing the coveted Cox to Philadelphia.
On the night before the draft, the Eagles and Seattle Seahawks agreed to a deal that would move the Eagles from No. 15 to No. 12 if one of the players they wanted was available. They would compensate the Seahawks with fourth- and sixth-round picks to make the move.
When Cox fell to No. 12, the two teams made the trade. It seemed like an easy decision to take Cox. What Howie Roseman couldn't have predicted was the Eagles could have turned the No. 12 pick into a future first-round pick if he agreed to another trade while on the clock.
"When he got to 12 and we were ready to make the pick, we had agreed on the trade, and then we got a call from another team offering us to move back for a future 1," Roseman said last week.
So the Eagles took a minute to consider the offer.Whenever a team can pick up an additional first-round pick, it's worth consideration. But the Eagles were fond of Cox, who former defensive line coach Jim Washburn said was "made" to play in the scheme the Eagles used. The team called in the Cox pick, afraid to pass up the defensive lineman for the prospect of more valuable picks.
"If he was [what the Eagles thought], how would we get that guy again?" Roseman said. "And all around the room, everyone agreed that to get a 6-4, 310-pound guy, 35-inch arms, powerful, athletic, great character, we'd have to pick in the Top-5 -- 21 years old. For us, even if that future one was a 12 or 13 or 14, we thought it was a unique opportunity that we were able to get that kind of guy, so we just kind of made the pick."
Roseman said the Eagles didn't even think Cox would be the player they'd acquire at No. 12. But when the Dallas Cowboys traded up to No. 6 from No. 14 with the St. Louis Rams to take cornerback Morris Claiborne, it dropped a team that needed a defensive lineman. The Rams ended up with defensive tackle Michael Brockers two picks after the Eagles took Cox. The Seahawks selected linebacker Bruce Irvin with the Eagles' original first-round pick, and defensive lineman Jaye Howard and cornerback Jeremy Lane with the additional picks from the Eagles.
There's no way of knowing what the Eagles could have turned the additional picks into, just as the Eagles don't know what the picks they sacrificed for Carson Wentz will become. But Cox has developed into the team's best player. The Eagles had the No. 4 pick in 2013 draft and used it on Lane Johnson. If they had an additional first-round pick in the teens, it could have been used on a player such as Sheldon Richardson, Star Lotulelei, or Kenny Vaccaro – players at positions of need at the time that went Nos. 13 to 15.
"It's an interesting story," Roseman said. "It's one of my favorite stories that we've had here."