There's no question that the Buffalo Bills are in dire need of a formidable pass-rusher. Even though they paid a heavy price for outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, questions about his nagging injuries still arise.
Other than Merriman, the Bills have no viable options to attack the quarterback.
With Chan Gailey saying the Bills will operate primarily out of a four-man front, Quinton Coples seems to fit the bill (no pun intended). In a 3-4 defensive front, outside linebackers normally lead their respective teams in the sack department. However, Marcell Dareus, who playing a position that gets little recognition—nose tackle—leads the team with 5.5 sacks on the year.
Coples is the perfect prospect for the Bills to draft come April, as the 21-year-old North Carolina Tar Heel is versatile enough to play in the hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense the Bills operate. He has all of the measurables to be either a 4-3 defensive tackle or end or a 3-4 five-technique defensive end/linebacker.
At 6'6" and 276 pounds, he surely would bring a better pass-rush than the current starter, Spencer Johnson, who weighs in at more than 300 pounds.
When former Tar Heels Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin were suspended, Coples jumped right in, sliding in from left defensive end to an undersized defensive tackle, and had the most productive season of his career.
Another pro for both Coples and the Bills franchise is that he is stout against the run and can shed blocks almost with ease. Watching film on Coples, it's obvious he plays until the whistle blows and is extremely effective on almost every down.
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He has both the speed and strength to play on the defensive line or as an outside linebacker. He already utilizes strong, powerful bull-rush moves, but can also be finesse and spin around blockers, which allows him to get a first step on opposing linemen.
During his career as a Tar Heel, Coples has racked up 120 tackles, 32 for a loss and 24 sacks in four seasons seasons.
Courtney Upshaw, on the other hand, has been impressive throughout his collegiate career, and should love to reunite with his Crimson Tide alumnus, Dareus. Throughout the Senior Bowl week, Upshaw proved he has the bull rush capable of collapsing the pocket, despite his short 6'1" frame.
This guy gets tackles for losses, and attacks opposing quarterbacks with ease.