What do we make of North Carolina DE Quinton Coples? Eight months ago early drafts had him as the second, or third player off the board- the next 'sure thing' defensive end, already garnering lofty comparisons to Julius Peppers and Jason Pierre-Paul. As the evaluation process continued throughout the season he kept getting rated lower, and lower. Now, in the week leading up to the draft there are reports he may end up going in the early 20's. At first I thought this had to be inaccurate. While I admit I struggle with the lack of quality tape, or a sub-par season, I simply can't imagine a player with his natural ability can fall that far.
This evening Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders and Greg Cosell of NFL Network happened to both be discussing Quinton Coples, and in these situations I acquiesce to those who know far more about scouting that I do.
Where does Coples fit in NFL? Don't see him as athletic + flexible as J. Tuck. Is he a strong side DE in 4-3? 3-4 DE? 4-3 DT? Tough call.— Greg Cosell (@gregcosell) April 22, 2012
It's interesting here that Cosell makes the delineation that he sees Coples as a strong side player in a 4-3. Granted, that's what we need across from Charles Johnson, but for a player we projected as having infinite versatility it's a worry that some don't believe he can take on left tackles.
@gregcosell Nice timing on Coples, Greg. Finishing my report - more tape and more words than any other prospect. My befuddlement is similar.— SC_DougFarrar (@SC_DougFarrar) April 22, 2012
Cosell and Farrar talked more about Coples in the NFL, and we'll look at that...
After the jump
The argument I've heard a lot on Coples' behalf was him being played out of position for much of the season. Admittedly he did look better on film at DE, but Farrar addressed the issues too.
Clearly not a consistent interior defender, but I figured that was bad positioning. Watching sub-par tackles box him out at DE was alarming.— SC_DougFarrar (@SC_DougFarrar) April 22, 2012
Hope I am wrong, but my sense is that someone's going to get hoodwinked by size/speed and wind up with the next Jamaal Anderson.— SC_DougFarrar (@SC_DougFarrar) April 22, 2012
That's a pretty scathing review, especially regarding his ineffectiveness at DE against non-NFL caliber talent at offensive tackle. As for comparing Coples to Jamaal Anderson, I can see that too.
I'm sure to get lambasted by UNC fans, but nobody will convince me that the program under Butch Davis created decent NFL talent. That could well change under Larry Fedora, but under Davis we saw a consistent pattern of players with amazing physiques and athletic abilities, but woefully lacking football IQs. Hakeem Nicks was the exception, not the rule. Greg Little and Dwight Jones are lazy route runners, Marvin Austin and Quinton Coples were allowed to lean on talent alone, Zach Brown arm tackles far too often and Kentwan Balmer... well... was just a bust. In time I think the next step of the draft process will be to analyze the relative strengths and weaknesses in college programs in terms of creating NFL talent. As it stands UNC have been consistently putting players into the NFL without the mental tools needed to exceed, and Coples lackadaisical approach to football underscores this.
I don't pretend to know what will happen to Quinton Coples on draft night, nor do I think Cosell and Farrar are the be all, and end all- but I hold their opinions very highly, and these scouting observations are concerning to say the least.