Past to Present: Julius Peppers vs. Quinton Coples

We are officially in the midst of NFL draft season. And to kill time up until the draft actually takes place you are going to see plenty of articles and posts speculating where prospects will ultimately wind up. It's fun to speculate but at the same time it can become tiresome. Instead of another post on where players might end up I'm going to focus on a comparison.

Quinton Coples is one of the more polarizing prospects in this year's draft due to his inconsistent play on the field. He possesses the physical tools that have garnered him comparisons to former standout Panther Julius Peppers. Peppers was a physical freak when he came out of the University of North Carolina and there was no question he was going to be a player in the NFL.

The same can not be said for Coples. I'll dig deeper into the Coples-Peppers comparison after the jump.

Both Coples and Peppers are similar in size and stature. Peppers is an inch taller at 6'7" and both were around 285 out of college. While it's easy to assume that the two are similar players because of their frames it isn't the case.

Peppers was an elite prospect when he left UNC and he used his freakish abilities to compile great game tape. Whether it be batting down balls, forcing fumbles, intercepting passes or sacking the quarterback, Peppers did it in college. In three years as a Tar Heel he sacked the quarterback 30.5 times and finished with 53 tackles for loss.

Coples came into the season looking like an elite prospect and some believed that he had the ability to be as effective as Peppers. There wasn't a preseason big board around that didn't have him as a top-10 player. But Coples was unable to follow up a breakout junior season in which he had 10 sacks with a strong senior season. The 7.5 sacks he put up may not look like a down year, yet you have to take into consideration that four of his sacks came against James Madison and Duke. Neither team is exactly a powerhouse.

Effort has also been a question mark with Coples. For someone with the tools he possesses there's no reason he shouldn't have had a bigger impact in games this season. Peppers took quite a bit of heat from fans and the media for a perceived lack of effort in his days as a Panther, but coming out of college that wasn't a concern. It would be interesting to see how fans would react if Coples was selected.

In summation, Coples and Peppers may look similar on the outside but the closer you look there isn't much of a comparison. Peppers was a far superior player coming out of college and in hindsight should have been the first overall pick. Fortunately, for Carolina, Houston selected David Carr and the Panthers received seven seasons of strong play from Peppers and one puzzling down year, which to this day is hard to explain.

I'm not saying drafting Coples would be a mistake but it's far from a sure thing that he will produce at the next level. He could easily wind up being a guy that never reaches his potential and fades out. Or he could wind up being an absolute stud. In actuality it's more likely that he will turn into a solid pro that is neither awful or spectacular. For a team that has plenty of holes I wouldn't recommend taking a high risk prospect such as Coples at No. 9.

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