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Why Fletcher Cox is so high on Milton Williams


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Why Fletcher Cox is so high on Milton Williams


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Fletcher Cox is about as flat-line as any Eagle in recent memory. He rarely lavishes praise on anybody or anything, and after even the biggest wins or the most dominating performances, he doesn’t get too excited.  

Even keel is putting it mildly. 

So when Cox starts talking up a teammate, your ears perk up.

And when it's a rookie, it really gets your attention.

Because if Fletch says he can play, he can play.

And Fletch says Milton Williams can play.

"Of course he’s still got a lot of learning to do, but he’s a little bit ahead of the curve as far as just playing fast,” Cox said of Williams. "That’s his biggest thing, know what to do and play fast. I’m pretty excited about him and gaining that confidence in him that he’ll go out there and do his job.”

Williams is the 22-year-old, 6-foot-3, 290-pound rookie two-way defensive lineman the Eagles drafted out of Louisiana Tech. 

This is one of the NFL’s best defensive lines, and it’s not easy to break into this rotation. But Williams has done it at two positions.

Williams spent most of the summer at defensive end, but with Javon Hargrave sidelined for a few days with a minor ankle injury, Williams moved inside for the preseason game against the Patriots and also at practice on Sunday.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon values versatility tremendously, but a rookie who’s talented enough – and mentally sharp enough - to handle defensive tackle and defensive end is a rarity. 

"I think it could be real challenging,” Cox said. "You’ve got to hone in on your job and basically focus on what to do once you get out there. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. We’re in the NFL and you’ve got to be able to do your job (so) the guy next to you has confidence in you and have fun with it. I think he’s looked good.” 

Where will Williams ultimately fit in?

Maybe just inside. Maybe just outside. Maybe both.

But by working at both spots, he gives Gannon a lot of flexibility, and he’s helped make the strongest position group on the team even better.

"I’m pretty comfortable playing both,” Williams said recently. "They trust me to be able to know both spots, and I’m doing my best to get as much confidence as I can and let them know that whenever they need to move me around they can do that.”

The Eagles probably need Williams more inside, since Cox and Hargrave are the only interior linemen who are roster locks right now. 

They already have Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan outside. But the coaches really like Williams as an edge rusher, the position he played until his final year of college. 

What’s most important is that Williams is mentally sharp enough to pick up both spots and perform at a high level. He’s got the strength and power to play inside and the athleticism to play outside. 

"He’s just a physical player and he’s got a bunch of raw talent and that’s what you want to see, especially in a young d-lineman, a guy who can play two positions,” Cox said after joint practice with the Jets Tuesday.

"He’s been having a good camp, learning the plays and not afraid to ask questions and being very, very coachable. I’ve got a lot of respect for that young man.”

Coming from Cox, that speaks volumes.


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I have to say Williams is a player I'm very much excited to see this year. I think he's going to reck a few game plans during the year. 

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The thing that opened my eyes was when he did all his workouts pre draft and they showed his numbers everything he did was in the same company as the one and only Aaron Donald. His lateral quickness his shuttles, his squats are insane and his bench press is unbelievable. At first I was thinking he was just a athlete and not a real player. Now that I have seen the kid play real snaps now it’s obvious this kid is special, real special. I am so happy JG got his choice instead of Tom Donahue on draft day. I’m not saying he is going to be anywhere close to Donald but the fact he has that type of raw ability and can already play everywhere on the line this early shows he is also extremely smart. He reminds me of Geno Atkins if anyone. I really think we have a future Oro Bowl player and to think our top 3 picks all have the talent to become pro bowl type players really makes our core strong. 

I know we have yet to play a game but this years draft is extremely promising. DeVonte Smith could very well be the best WR we have had since Jackson was drafted and I believe Smith gets us our first 1000 yard receiver since I believe Maclin. (Not counting Ertz)  

Landon Dickerson was evaluated by many as the best interior lineman since Quinton Nelson and I have heard some evaluators say he is as good or better. If that’s the case we have a perennial All Pro. That means we have three young lineman once Kelce, Johnson, and Brooks are gone to be our main core. Malaita is going to be a future  Pro Bowler and possible All Pro. Samuelo is a very good player and will most likely be our center after Kelce retires. Landon Dickerson can also play center but I think Samuelo is a more natural center. With Dickersons power and size I believe he is best suited at RG. Jack Driscoll if he continues to progress also could be a future starter at RG or RT. Nate Herbig will probably move on from us nafter his contract so he can get big money in free agency. We also have young depth in Sua Opeta and the raw talent from Buffalo. Jeff Stoutland will have plenty of talent to work with even after Brooks, Johnson,  and Kelce move on. That means we only have to fill one or two starters in the draft to make our line elite even after they go

Milton is everything e could have how’d and dreamed for. We have 3 guys we can count on even after Graham and Cox leave. Josh Sweat is turning into a stud and deserves to start and get a new contract. Hargrave is a pro bowl player and maybe playing better than Cox is at this stage of their careers. And Milton if he keeps getting better could also be a future pro bowler and is going to continue our generations of star lineman we have. 
Zac McPherson looks to be a future starter somewhere either Nickel or outside, he still needs time to develop but he looks promising. Gainwell looks like a absolute playmaker and will be a terror for Linebackers and Safties trying to cover him for years to come. Patrick Johnson looks to be like a good core special teams guy and even could be starting on week one at Sam. And he was a 7th round pick. Jack Still looks like a UDFA gem who will have a role on this team. This draft is looking to be a solid one

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