The New York Jets looked to North Carolina with their first round draft pick, taking Quinton Coples, a defensive end. What do our scouts say about the newest member of Gang Green?
Whether it's in the NFL or in college football, there are times when you look at how a player is being used, and you simply wonder if the coaches are seeing something you're not, because the player's positioning makes little sense. That was my overwhelming feeling with Coples -- the extent to which he was used as an interior lineman seems to make no sense based on the production on a play-by-play basis. He would occasionally blast through for an impact play, but he was muted far too often for a player of his raw physical attributes.
Of course, we can't throw all the blame at the feet of North Carolina's coaching staffs -- there are enough times where Coples comes off the snap late and seems to give up after a hard block instead of re-directing, and this lends legitimacy to the concerns about his overall effort. It's pretty disturbing to see a 6-foot-6, 284-pound guy who can run a 4.78 40 at the combine get rolled up by tight ends and blocking backs as much as he did.
The Julius Peppers comparisons are frequent, but hardly instructive. Peppers may disappear from time to time, but that's the nature of the defensive end position, and he flashed enough to merit elite status going all the way back to his collegiate days. With Coples, it's tough to even peg him as a high-caliber role-player like Arizona's Calais Campbell, a player who has learned to use his size to his great advantage. Instead, Coples' tape very much brings to mind Arkansas' Jamaal Anderson, a 6-foot-6. 288-pound mountain of a man who was selected eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. Anderson never came close to validating his high prospect status, and there was enough on his college tape to make people wonder. Anderson's size/speed combo hoodwinked the Falcons, and though he had his moments as an interior pass rusher, Anderson's NFL career has been an unqualified disappointment to date.
The only thing I like less than writing a very negative scouting report about a college player is when I have to openly wonder if that same player will do anything above average in the NFL. Unfortunately, after watching more tape on him than any other college prospect in this draft class, that's what I have to do with Coples. He could surprise in the right scheme, and I certainly hope he does, but based solely on the tape ... well, the magic 8-ball isn't so positive.
Pro Comparison: Jamaal Anderson, Atlanta Falcons